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Jo is part of Tearfund’s Policy team, working on climate change and renewable energy. Here she writes about using our voices to keep up the pressure on solar power for people in poverty.

I’ve been in Washington for the past week, meeting with the UK representative on the Board of the World Bank and World Bank officials. It has been a key moment in Tearfund’s campaign for the World Bank to invest more in renewable energy like solar power for people living off the grid in remote areas.

Our voice counts. Melanie Robinson, the UK representative on the World Bank Board, thanked Tearfund and paid tribute to its powerful campaigning. As we speak out together, this keeps up the pressure for the World Bank to ensure that the poorest communities have affordable and sustainable renewable energy in Africa and Asia. It was a great opportunity to meet Melanie in person and thank her, on behalf of Tearfund, for championing renewable energy with the World Bank.

Renewable technology is developing rapidly and providing new options for millions of people living beyond the grid. Lots of private sector companies commented on the pace of change in Washington this week.

The World Bank has the resources to invest in modern clean energy on a massive scale and see nations powered by solar, as part of its goal to end poverty by 2030. It is moving in the right direction and it has a key role to play in getting the world back on track to ensure that everyone has clean energy.

Jo meeting World Bank representatives

Ali is 35 years old and lives in Kinangali village in the Dodoma region of Tanzania with his wife and two children, aged 12 and 4. He moved to this village four years ago. When he arrived, Ali identified a need in the village: local people kept cattle, but had to travel a long distance to Manyoni for treatment for their animals if they became sick. He opened a kiosk selling medical supplies for cattle, such as dipping solution and antibiotics.

The government doesn’t fund the national grid to reach Ali’s village and it will be some years before it arrives. In the past, Ali used a torch with batteries for light, and had to close his kiosk at 6pm, when it got dark. Now, with the solar panel, he can stay open in the evenings. He can also charge his mobile phone, which he uses to buy goods for his business. Ali used to earn 5,000 TZS (2 USD) a day; now he makes 10–20,000 TZS (4–8 USD). He saved that extra money and has bought a plot of land. He plans to buy a house and would like to expand his business. With a more powerful solar panel, he could charge other people’s mobiles or buy a fridge to sell cold drinks.

Let’s keep up the pressure so that people like Ali can be empowered by solar. 

Sign the World Bank petition here to show your support. 

Jo Khinmaung