A Church World Service project that addresses the energy demands of rural households in the nation of Georgia has been honored with the 2011 ACT Climate Award, which recognizes humanitarian work focused on climate change adaptation.

The project, based in the Chokotauri and Khobi districts of Georgia, is carried out in cooperation with two Georgia-based partners ― Women in Europe for a Common Future and the Rural Communities Development Agency.

In accepting the award during the recent ACT Global Disaster Risk Reduction Workshop here, Rostom Gamisonia, who heads the Rural Communities Development Agency, praised the partnership between the various agencies.

“Church World Service doesn’t tell us how to do this. We tell them of our capacity and they work with us,” he said during the final day of the ACT workshop, held Sept. 5-9, and which was attended by a number of CWS staff members from Asia and North America.

Vitali Vorona, CWS Balkans and Europe Regional Coordinator, said the recognition of the award “is very important for all of us in today’s challenging circumstances” and could provide a tremendous opportunity for CWS Europe programs in several ways.

“It may serve as the catalyst for pioneering new approaches and innovations in the future. We can translate it to better relationships with the partners, beneficiaries and other stakeholders. I hope the award will also serve as a motivating factor in our efforts to do more with our partners in the region.”

The CWS-RCDA partnership was recognized for a sustainable development program that supports poor communities in Georgia by building local skills and capacities in environmental protection, and the use of renewable energy resources.

The project combines both climate change adaptation and mitigation work while creating new sources of income and employment. Most families in the project area use firewood for cooking and heating which causes widespread land degradation.

As an alternative to cutting down trees the project promotes and builds briquette machines to produce fuel-briquettes from agricultural residues.

Among the other components of the project are efforts to use renewable energy resources by building solar water heaters and solar dryers for dried fruits and vegetables.

John Nduna, the general secretary of ACT Alliance, and Peter Rottach, who heads the ACT climate and disaster risk reduction working group, said the CWS project is an example of the alliance’s considerable “know-how” on reducing disaster risk and adapting to climate change.

“This, we believe, is expertise that is worth sharing,” they said in announcing the award winner. “One of the added values of a network like the ACT Alliance is the ability to stimulate mutual sharing, learning and capacity-support among and for its members.”

Church World Service is a member of ACT Alliance, an international grouping of 111 churches and church-related organizations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. The alliance works in 140 countries and mobilizes $1.6 billion annually in its work.