Tackling the challenges of village energy access for development (Smart Villages Initiative).
The LCEDN has had a relationship with the Smart Villages network since it was first established. Our partnership continues this monthly programme of webinars as a major part of our dissemination strategy but we are also deepening our collaboration via a variety of capacity-building activities.
Specific activities include:
1. We are developing our programme of joint webinars, ensuring that the key themes described within this proposal feature heavily within the programmed activity and that speakers are drawn from the range of strategic capacity building partnerships discussed here.
2. We are developing an LCEDN strand to Smart Villages remaining forward-looking workshops, playing the role of convening the breadth of academic approaches within each subject area (we have discussed sessions on storage and recycling, appliance development, gender (in collaboration with Energia), energy in post-conflict societies etc.). The LCEDN will be broadening the range of disciplines represented, provide additional opportunities for discussion and dissemination and contribute towards workshop design and facilitation.
3. We are also supporting LCEDN members’ engagement in Smart Villages remaining geographical engagements. These workshops have proven invaluable in distilling key regional capacity-building needs and strategies.
4. Perhaps most importantly, however, we are working with Smart Villages in reflecting on the overall lesson-learning from their activities as they come to the end of their funding period, in disseminating their final reports across a wide range of academic and non-academic audiences and providing fora for deeper discussion and lesson-learning (particularly in relation to capacity-building) beyond the formal end of the Smart Villages project. These lessons will then be fed into the scoping activities of the RPDC.
5. The collaboration with Smart Villages continues to provide a first class opportunity to disseminate key findings from the full range of programme activities. We are already aware that these sessions have been used off-line after the event as training materials amongst some Southern research partners. This is something that we will promote further.
The Smart Villages Initiative (SVI):
The Smart Villages Initiative aims to provide policy makers, donors and development agencies concerned with rural energy access with new insights on the real barriers to energy access in villages in developing countries – technological, financial and political – and how they can be overcome. They have chosen to focus on remote off-grid villages, where local solutions (home- or institution-based systems, and mini-grids) are both more realistic and cheaper than national grid extension. Their concern is to ensure that energy access results in development and the creation of ‘smart villages’ in which many of the benefits of life in modern societies are available to rural communities. SVI has worked across six major regions of the ‘developing world.’ In each of the six regions a major international workshop brings together the diverse set of players from across the region, providing an open and stimulating environment conducive to generating new insights into how to tackle the challenges of village energy access for development. Follow-up activities include briefing meetings for policy makers, innovation competitions to generate new ideas, training courses and further workshops. A final event in each region draws together lessons learned in conjunction with policy makers, donors and development agencies, and considers next steps. Crosscutting activities are developing supporting materials and ensuring that lessons are learned, and connections made, across the regions.