November 11, 2013, New York, NY — Just over one week ago, the United Nations honored an Israeli, Sivan Ya’ari, with the Innovation Award presented at a global summit in Nairobi for her work bringing Israeli innovation to African villages. Ya’ari is the first Israeli ever to receive this award.
Less than two months after the Westgate Mall attack, international eyes were once again on Kenya, but this time for a gathering of 12,000 attendees from 53 countries to discuss cutting edge solutions and opportunities for the developing world. This annual gathering, the Global South-South Development Expo, is co-sponsored by multiple UN agencies (including UNEP and UNIDO). After a nominations process lasting several months, organizers selected 50 speakers to share their solutions with the international community.
Sivan Ya’ari, Founder & President of Innovation: Africa, was selected as one such speaker, traveled to the conference as part of the Israeli delegation, and was presented with the Innovation Award–one of only five distributed annually.
Ya’ari was presented with the award after sharing Innovation: Africa’s cost-efficient, self-sustaining model for powering rural schools, medical clinics, orphanages and water pumping systems with solar energy. Since 2008, her organization has brought light, improved education, proper medical care and clean water to over 475,000 people, all using Israeli technology and expertise.
“As an Israeli who’s worked extensively in Africa,” Ya’ari explains, “sharing the solar technology with which I grew up seemed to be a natural solution for the challenges facing rural African communities. We are honored today to be recognized for our efforts in this field, and look forward to expanding our work to more countries, and to include new technology solutions.”
The award comes just over a year after Innovation: Africa was unanimously granted Special Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) after an 18 month vetting process. Since then, they have submitted formal statements translated into the six official UN languages that have been distributed to UN delegates at high level meetings and events. This summer, they were invited to speak at the UN ECOSOC annual conference in Geneva.
Upon hearing about the award, Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said: “The amazing work that Innovation: Africa is doing serves as an inspiration to all Israelis. This is the face of Israel that I am so proud to represent in the halls of the United Nations.”
About Innovation: Africa
Innovation: Africa is a non-profit organization that brings Israeli innovation to African villages. Since their founding in 2008, they have completed over 65 solar and agricultural projects in Ethiopia, Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda. Using Israeli solar technology, they provide schools and medical clinics with solar power to offer evening study, adult education, well-lit nighttime medical care and refrigeration for lifesaving medicines and vaccines. Their solar powered water pumps provide over 20,000 liters of clean water a day, and their drip irrigation systems provide a source of food and income for farmers and their families. Over 475,000 people have been impacted by their projects, and more than 300,000 vaccines have been issued from their solar powered refrigerators. To learn more, visit www.innoafrica.org.