Gaborone, Botswana [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] In a bid to promote clean energy use and reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) and the emission of carbon dioxide, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the Government of Botswana and the Botswana Power Corporation, are launching a renewable energy project aimed at assisting Botswana’s rural communities.The project aims at equipping some 65,000 households with solar-powered photovoltaic (PV) lighting instead of paraffin, by 2011, to help power more than 5,000 households that use domestic cooking gas as their source. The project will also facilitate the development of policy and institutional arrangements conducive to the integration and provision of off-grid renewable energy services within the country’s electricity programs, while also creating awareness among the general public about the advantages of clean solar energy. This renewable energy-based project is funded for a period of five years by UNDP’s Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Government of Botswana to the tune of US$8.6 million, with Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) as the implanting partner. Initially some 88 off-grid villages will benefit from this project using solar-powered heating systems and lighting appliances. Lessons learned will then be replicated throughout the country and integrated into the national electrical grid to promote renewable energy use nationwide. “The program is envisaged to see Botswana make significant progress in the attainment of a number of the Millennium Development Goals,” said UNDP Energy & Environment Unit Manager, Leonard Dikobe. The value of renewable energy in development provides power to run primary schools, health clinics, local government centers, rural businesses and households. Specific benefits include communication equipment and electric lighting to enable evening classes for disadvantaged groups thereby freeing them for participation in village meetings, education and village governance. Health benefits include fighting diseases by boiling water, curtailing respiratory illnesses from indoor pollution that contribute to child mortality, improving medication and equipment requiring refrigeration and/or sterilization, providing electricity for communication (e.g., radio / TV) that can spread important public info about, for example, combating deadly diseases, and ending energy production and consumption’s adverse effects on the environment (air pollution, land degradation, acidification of land and water, climate change). Ultimately, energy planning driven by development goals in other sectors (agriculture, commerce, small to medium-sized businesses, health, education) can enhance the much-needed global cooperation for development.