Renewable Innovations for Disaster Resilience: Lessons from Developing Economies

In this article, we will explore some renewable innovations that have emerged from developing economies, contributing to disaster resilience.


Microgrids are small-scale, localized power grids that can operate independently or in conjunction with the main power grid. They are an innovative solution to address power outages during disasters. Unlike traditional power grids, microgrids can function even if the main grid fails, ensuring a stable source of electricity to critical infrastructure such as hospitals, emergency shelters, and communication systems.

Key takeaways:

  • Microgrids provide reliable and resilient power supply during natural disasters.
  • They can reduce the impact of power outages and ensure the operation of vital services.
  • Developing economies can benefit from decentralized energy systems like microgrids to enhance disaster resilience.

According to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the deployment of microgrids has increased substantially in developing countries, where traditional power infrastructure may be lacking. For example, India’s Smart Power for Rural Development program has successfully implemented microgrids in remote villages, enabling access to electricity and improving disaster resilience in these communities.

Portable Renewable Energy Systems:

In disaster-affected regions, access to electricity is often disrupted, hindering relief efforts and communication. Portable renewable energy systems offer an effective solution to this problem. These systems, such as solar-powered generators, can be easily transported to disaster-stricken areas, providing a reliable source of power for essential appliances, charging stations, and lighting.

Key takeaways:

  • Portable renewable energy systems enable immediate access to electricity in disaster-stricken areas.
  • They facilitate relief efforts, communication, and enhance overall disaster resilience.
  • Developing economies can leverage portable renewable energy systems to quickly respond to disasters and support affected communities.

For example, after the devastating earthquake in Nepal in 2015, portable solar power units were distributed to provide emergency lighting and power in remote areas. This initiative not only assisted in relief efforts but also helped rebuild communities with more resilient energy systems.

Biogas Technology:

Biogas technology converts organic waste into clean energy, offering a sustainable solution for off-grid communities and disaster-prone areas. Biogas can be produced from various sources, such as agricultural waste, livestock manure, and food scraps. It can be used for cooking, heating, and generating electricity, reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Key takeaways:

  • Biogas technology provides renewable and sustainable energy from organic waste.
  • It offers a decentralized energy solution for off-grid communities and disaster-prone regions.
  • Developing economies can adopt biogas technology to promote self-sufficiency and disaster resilience.

Countries like Kenya have embraced biogas technology to improve disaster resilience in vulnerable regions. Biogas plants have been installed, not only to provide energy but also to address waste management and sanitation challenges in these areas.

Rainwater Harvesting:

Rainwater harvesting is an efficient solution for water scarcity during natural disasters. It involves collecting and storing rainwater for various purposes, including drinking, irrigation, and sanitation. Rainwater harvesting systems can range from simple rooftop collection systems to more complex underground storage tanks.

Key takeaways:

  • Rainwater harvesting ensures access to clean water during and after disasters.
  • It reduces the dependency on water supply systems and enhances disaster resilience.
  • Developing economies can implement rainwater harvesting techniques to mitigate water scarcity in disaster-prone areas.

Mexico’s rainwater harvesting system, known as “cisternas,” has significantly improved water availability during times of drought and natural disasters. These systems have been widely adopted in rural communities, reducing the reliance on external water sources and strengthening resilience in water-scarce regions.

Developing economies continue to face significant challenges in building disaster resilience due to limited resources and infrastructure. However, the innovations discussed in this article demonstrate their potential to address these challenges effectively. By leveraging renewable innovations such as microgrids, portable renewable energy systems, biogas technology, and rainwater harvesting, developing economies can enhance their disaster resilience and protect their communities.

Microgrids: IRENA Report
Portable Renewable Energy Systems: USAID Report
Biogas Technology: Energising Development, Kenya Case Study
Rainwater Harvesting: The Guardian

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