Renewable energy is crucial to India’s COVID-19 response and recovery

The IKEA Foundation has donated €2 million to our partner SELCO Foundation to support their response to the devastating second wave of COVID-19 in India.      

SELCO and its partners are using renewable energy to power essential healthcare facilities and help small farmers and entrepreneurs weather the crisis.

Harish Hande, CEO of SELCO Foundation, says: “Life is already hard for people living in poverty. COVID-19 has made it unbearable. The pandemic has played havoc in people’s lives by affecting the bread earning members of families.

“It is humbling to work in partnership with the IKEA Foundation to provide solutions using renewable energy that can provide safety nets and prevent people from slipping into further poverty.”

Relief, recovery and resilience

SELCO’s nine-month programme will use renewable energy innovations to provide relief and help 500,000 people recover from the crisis and build their resilience. It includes:
• strengthening critical health infrastructure by building energy efficient and solar powered COVID hospitals, testing centres, quarantine units, immunisation centres and oxygen generator
• creating models that use renewable energy to revive livelihoods and enterprises in vulnerable communities, such as small eateries and food processing units
• supporting last-mile clean energy enterprises in crisis management through an incubation programme
• providing emergency relief to some of the most vulnerable households during the pandemic with a weekly allowance, medical supplies and other daily necessities.

Rapid response task force 

The new programme builds on SELCO’s impressive response last year. When the first wave of the pandemic reached India in 2020, SELCO created a COVID-19 rapid response task force to address the most pressing needs within its network of partners and communities. It focused on strengthening the health infrastructure and securing people’s livelihoods. 

Morzina Khatun, from Dhubri, Assam, is a poultry farmer and entrepreneur. As well as rearing her own chickens and ducks, she supervises vaccinations for livestock in her area. During the first lockdown, she was unable to travel to the nearby town to buy the vaccines.

“During lockdown it was impossible to get vaccines for the livestocks,” she says. “Many livestock farmers were worried. If it had continued like this, mortality rates would have gone up.”

SELCO provided solar-powered cold storage so Morzina could store larger quantities of the vaccines. This has saved her money on travelling town, reduced deaths among the flocks and helped her increase her income.

Protecting livelihoods and health

In 2020, SELCO helped more than 200 entrepreneurs to keep their businesses going through sustainable energy access and created safety nets to stop another 200 grassroots enterprises from collapsing.

With SELCO’s support, 46,000 people benefited from decentralised healthcare and testing services, including 60 portable solar-powered COVID-19 care hospitals, mobile testing kiosks, vans and isolation centres. And it provided emergency relief, such as basic rations and other essential supplies, to 3,000 families who were stranded during the 2020 country-wide lockdown.

Funding to MSF during COVID-19