By Hal Brill
This article first appeared in the June 2009 edition of the Natural Investing newsletter
It’s good to be home! In the last issue I wrote from beautiful Patagonia and shared some of the environmental issues we learned about. From there we continued north along the spine of the Andes Mountains in Chile and Argentina, and by late April arrived in Bolivia. I want to share two stories with you. The first is about a site visit to one of our community investment partners. The other is about a community-owned ecolodge in the Amazon jungle. For more stories and lots of photos you can check out our blog, www.halandalgosouth.wordpress.com.
Solar Ovens and the Red Brick People
One of my goals in Bolivia was to visit the regional office of E+CO, a nonprofit that specializes in clean and renewable energy in the developing world. Several Natural Investments clients have invested in their People + Planet Notes, so I was eager to see how this money has been put to work in Bolivia. They put me in touch with their South America Representative, Gonzalo Rico Calderon, and via email we sketched out a tour of three major projects.
From Gonzalo’s office we could actually see the first project out the window. He lives in Cochabamba, a city well-known to anti-globalization activists for resisting efforts to privatize its water system. He pointed to a pipeline descending from the nearby mountains towards the city. This is part of the municipal water supply, but previously the water came down a gully, causing erosion and wasting lots of water. Gonzalo, an engineer by trade, saw that there was an opportunity to install a hydro electric plant using this water. Now there is a modern turbine that feeds power into the grid while the pipeline prevents erosion and loss of water.