Mary Njenga/ICRAF

Global Innovation Index 2018: ICRAF/WLE profiles grassroots R&D and biomass innovations

The Global Innovation Index (GII) provides detailed metrics about the innovation performance of 126 countries around the world. Co-published by the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organizations (WIPO), the 2018 report is the 11th edition of the publication and focuses on the theme Energizing the World with Innovation. As Bruno Lanvin of INSEAD pointed out during the report launch press conference, providing energy for 10 billion people while ensuring the stability of the planet is one area where key innovation is needed in the years to come.

WLE researchers from the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) authored chapter 9 of the report, Grassroots Innovations Improve Woodfuel in Sub-Saharan Africa. While woodfuel is often considered to be an eco-unfriendly source of energy that is potentially harmful to the health of women and children, its importance to communities in Sub-Saharan Africa has made it difficult to replace. Instead of focusing on changing the source of fuel, the chapter looks at grassroots innovations, primarily undertaken by rural women, which have led to improved production and use of woodfuel. These innovations include sourcing firewood from trees that are planted on farms, processing organic residue and recycling them into fuel briquettes, and using biochar-producing cooking systems. Briquette production, which is mainly being undertaken in low income urban neighborhoods, is a major part of the Rural-Urban Linkages portfolio, and acts as an income generator for women and youth.

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