Sustainable energy transforming rural women’s lives in Africa

The initiation of domestic Bio-gas projects has brought positive impacts on the lives of people, especially rural women.

The biogas projects, initiated by United Nations Development Programme Zimbabwe (UNDP)and its partners were launched in 2013, termed SE4ALL, saw the action agenda being implemented in 26 countries including countries in  West Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa.

Allen Guva, from the ministry of Energy and Power Development spoke of the need for universal access to modern power which includes the use of solar and bio-gas.

‘We want each and everyone to be able to have access to sustainable energy. Universal access is what we are targeting so that no one is left out. Our work is doubling up in Africa and this program has especially benefited the women and mothers who look after the family and as a ministry we look to advancing this vision,’ he said

The installation of solar systems for farming, irrigation systems, and industry has helped farmers and the businesses to improve in production. Irrigation systems have been put covering 60 hectares in Malawi as well. 20 of the hectares are powered by solar system and this has seen an increase in agricultural productivity.

This energy hub has capacitated farmers with other options to be able to sustain themselves, said Ms Cecil of UNDP.

‘The energy hub operates 24 hours a day. The solar lanterns are used by farmers even at night which is for night irrigation. The lanterns are recharged as well so that they are in communication always,’ she said

Sustainable energy for all has also brought social benefits for women and children in the rural areas. At the farms, women are finding it easier working in the fields because of solar energy electrification. Women in rural areas had to walk long and painful distances to go to the grinding meals and no longer have to do that.

‘Other benefits include in the health sector and the education sector where people are now accessing medicines and proper medical care. Vaccinations of children are happening due to the easy access that is there now.

For instance in Mulanje, Malawi, there is electrification in schools now, households as well as the health sector. We are also doing small business skills training with women in these societies,’ said Cecil

The project is targeting 63 000 rural households in Zimbabwe and 7 600 school children.

The initiation of domestic Bio-gas projects is meant to improve the lives of rural people in health and education. Bio-gas installations in houses and businesses have already started transforming rural lives.

‘I am so thankful and glad for this project. There is no difference now between us and those in towns because now we have lights and power in our houses. My children are able to study even at night without the issues of candles because we now have a solar installation. I can do anything I want without stress,’ said Evelyn Gambe, who is a rural woman.

Verengai Mabika from DRI (development reality investment), who has created the Green Innovation Hub said the rural community is important in advancing sustainable energy for all.

‘The Green Innovations hub has three components which include the rural catalyst innovative youths to help boost youth programs. We also have the urban catalyst and the education system, which is targeting the schools under the young people’s innovation,’ he said

This initiative has also managed to tackle and helps farmers with the issue of climate change, which has been scientifically proven as a major challenge to us today.