Hivos International


While rural energy access investments – like mini-grids – can be expected to transform local economies, this doesn’t happen automatically. Catalysing local enterprises and raising incomes through productive uses of energy often requires extra measures, to overcome barriers such as gaps in local people’s skills or financial resources.

The food system is transitioning. New initiatives, start-ups and networks of changemakers are emerging at the grassroots level, harbouring ideas and massive potential to break through. Still, we struggle with enormous challenges: depletion of natural resources, hunger and obesity existing concurrently, climate change, soil erosion and so on. The urgency for a different, more sustainable and equitable food system is felt and recognised by more people every day. 

Tanzania is expanding its electricity services. But the sector still faces many challenges in terms of delivering a high quality, reliable service for customers. For customers of TANESCO, the Tanzanian electricity supply company, power cuts are a major preoccupation, and have an impact on their work, domestic life and other services they use. As the grid expands, expectations of access to a connection are also increasing. Electricity services need to be improved. There are many routes to achieving this, from more investment and infrastructure upgrades to new policy targets. 

What role will ordinary people play in energy systems of the future? IIED and Hivos asked leading energy thinkers for their views. Opinions vary: some want to see a future where citizens produce, control or profit more from local energy resources; for others, companies and governments are likely to remain in the driving seat, with people acting as passive consumers.

In Tanzania, electricity services are expanding, yet they are failing to deliver a high-quality service to end-users.

The Energy Change Lab initiative has looked at how information channels and customer feedback mechanisms can be used to ensure that the electricity sector becomes more transparent and accountable to those it serves. A number of prototype solutions are being piloted, drawing on models from other countries and those developed by stakeholders in Tanzania.

Kabarole Research and Resource Centre (KRC), Hivos and IIED convened the Change Lab in 2015. The process in the first year culminated in the country’s first People’s Summit on Food, the outcomes of which will be described in this publication.

Report: Provocative Seminar on Food

In the context of Age of Wonderland, a social innovation program which is jointly developed by Hivos, Baltan Laboratories and the Dutch Design Week, the “Provocative Seminar on Food: Challenging our Current Food System” took place at the Natlab on May 21st. Different experts from around the world reflected on the issues at stake and gave their perspectives on the food system in 2020.



Irresistibly biased Reflections on the Unusual Suspects Festival

<p>What&rsquo;s the state of play in the fast paced world of social innovation? The claims are high. The stakes may be even higher. The <a href="">Unusual Suspects festival</a> in the UK, seemed a good place to find out. The theme: collaboration.

Development, Impact & You (DIY)

Our writing of this blog competed with our reading of Russel Shorto’s Amsterdam¹. Shorto’s analysis of the turbulent late 16th/17th Century is instructive for change agents struggling to transform contemporary societies. Early 17th Century Europe was in a state of chaos. Citizens, merchants and  politicians alike were gasping to make sense of fast changing times.  There was no theory of change, just a multitude of experiments driven by  a spirit of questioning and renewal in all domains of life.

The  struggle to solve local and global issues often appears to pitch large  corporations and governments against activists, artists, workers and  ordinary citizens. But what happens when these entities consciously join  forces and share resources to create social change? It’s happening more than you might think—in a growing phenomenon known as innovation labs. And Labcraft offers an intimate picture of this new and evolving landscape—where  seemingly disparate stakeholders network and align as learning  communities who collaborate for positive change.