Filed under: Development Environment Peace and security Poverty Social inclusion Social innovation

I want to share the story of Milos Bosnjak and his family. They own a cow, one calf and 163 sheep. But after returning home when the war ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they didn’t have electricity.

And they still don’t.

Because they live off the grid, they cannot store and refrigerate milk, or produce cheese – which they could sell to generate much-needed income.

Milos is among 1 million people that returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina after the war.

It is to help people like Milos’ family that today we are proud to launch the UNDP renewable energy challenge.

Milos Bosnjak and family - living without electricity for 10 years

Milos Bosnjak and family – living without electricity for 10 years after returning home

We’re also pleased to be working with our partner, Nesta, given their extensive experience on using challenges to find solutions to intractable problems. (See: Using prizes to spur innovation)

Can you help?

We’re looking for an individual or company that can help us find a renewable energy solution to provide off-grid power to cover the needs of returnee families in rural Bosnia and Herzegovina.

By taking part in the challenge, you can help more than 3,000 families who returned to Bosnia and Herzegovina over 10 years ago and are still waiting for access to electricity.

With fast-declining funding for returnees, there is little hope that the grid will be extended to their villages – and in most cases, such an investment is not economically justified. So families like Milos’ are effectively left out.

The challenge calls for the design and development of a sustainable, cost-effective solution for a standalone, off-grid renewable energy supply that can produce an average of 1.25 kilowatts of electricity and heat 120 litres of water per day, and cost no more than 5,000 euros. (Want a more detailed description?)

If you win, you’ll receive a $20,000 cash prize, and the chance to see your solution tested in the field.

UNDP will pilot the winning solution in a rural area of Bosnia and Herzegovina for up to 50 returnee families in 2013.

And you could have a bigger impact as well. If successful, the solution is likely to be replicated in other parts of the world, as it goes to the heart of what UNDP does globally and it feeds into the United Nations Secretary-General’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative.

So are you up for helping us change the world?

* Help us get the word out: and share information about the #UNDPprize Challenge with your partners and networks – please and thank you!