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Smart Villages Photography Competition for International Applicants, 2017

Smart Villages, an initiative that explores the challenges and opportunities for access to decentralised energy acting as a catalyst for rural development, is holding a global photography competition.This competition focuses on how energy access changes the life of rural communities around the world, and the concept of “Smartness” i.e., not just provision of off-grid energy to villages, but how that energy is being used in productive, innovative, and even entrepreneurial ways to achieve sustainable development outcomes for the individuals and communities concerned.


  • US$2000 for the overall winner
  • US$1000 for the runner up
  • Two US$500 prizes for each of the four categories

One prize, of US$1000, is reserved for a junior photographer (under 18 years of age).

The winning photographs will be featured by the Smart Villages Initiative in a number of ways, including international exhibitions (particularly at our forthcoming policy workshops), incorporation in Smart Villages publications, and for use on our website and social media.

1.3 billion people in the world, mostly resource-poor and living in rural areas, do not have access to safe, sustainable forms of energy. 3 billion people have to burn biomass to cook their meals, which causes indoor smoke pollution. Because of this pollution, 4 million people, mostly women and children, lose their lives each year.

Extending the electricity grid to provide access to those who lack it is often not feasible since many live in remote and rural communities, which makes it too expensive and technically challenging. Stand-alone, local solutions relying on renewable energy sources, such as solar and mini-hydro, are in these cases often the best solutions.

But access to electricity and cleaner cooking can change people’s lives and help rural communities progress. Especially if that energy is harnessed in combination with other innovative technologies and applications for some form of “productive use” – for example the creation of sustainable local microenterprises, agricultural value addition, the provision of services to the community (e.g., education, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, banking, information/ communications), or by catalysing wider social community benefits such as improved gender equality, empowerment, and democratic engagement.

It is this innovative combination of access to modern, clean energy with productive use and community development that we consider constitutes a rural community or village being “Smart”. We believe the concept of “Smart Villages” serves as a valuable counterpoint to “Smart Cities” for the half of the world’s population (and majority of the world’s poor) who do not live in urban areas, and can help ensure that, although rural populations may be remote, they are no longer disadvantaged by a lack of infrastructure and services.

How To Apply:

Please fill in the form on our website, where you will specify to which category you wish to submit your photo. Please also tell us your name, age, nationality, and include a caption or title and description for your photo/s. Please also tell us where the photo is taken (including village/district names and locations as well as countries), and the names of any individuals featured in the photos.

Entry Form

Rules and Guidelines

 Deadline: Application deadline is April 30, 2017.

Scholarship Link

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