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Sierra Club Helps Bring Green Jobs to India

Reema Nanavaty of Self Employed Women's Association
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Reema Nanavaty of Self Employed Women's Association

The fate of green jobs in California might hang on Proposition 23 on the November ballot, but the Sierra Club is going ahead with ambitious plans to provide green jobs in India. Carl Pope, who stepped down as head of the cub earlier this year but remains its chair, said his organization is partnering with SEWA, the Self Employed Women's Association in Ahmedabad, India, reports Sunita Sohrabji for India West. The idea is to set up a Green Livelihoods Center that would provide green jobs for millions of rural Indians like the 1.5 million members of SEWA.

"How do you convert the country’s tremendous economic growth to rural and green growth?” asked Reema Nanavaty, executive director of SEWA, at a luncheon at Stanford last month. She said that with 93 percent of India's workforce in the informal sector, that was where there was the most potential to make an impact.

Rural women in India spend much of the day collecting firewood to use in wood-burning stoves (which aren’t good for the environment or their health). The San Jose-based organization Climate Healers is now proposing to make two kinds of solar stoves available -- one for slow-cooking foods like rice and lentils, and another to make breads like rotis.

While most Indian farmers don’t use pesticides because they can’t afford it, Nanavaty said there needs to be a more formal method for organic certification of crops like cotton.

San Francisco-based Sierra Club will partner with SEWA to bring solar cooking stoves and solar lighting to Indian villages, 78,000 of which still have no electricity. In addition to the health benefits of cooking on solar stoves, women will also be able to use their solar stoves to generate income by selling their carbon credits.

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