Installation of Solar PV for women empowerment project

Aug 9, 2017

(Photo Credit: Cecilia/UNDP Gambia)

The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in Africa with a population of about 1.9 million inhabitants. Women comprise about 51% of the population and constitute most of the poor and extremely poor in the country, and their stratus remains generally low compared to men (2013 census).   About 36.7% of the population is between 13-30 years of age. The economy of the country is based on agriculture. Poverty remains high and about 48.4% of the population lives below the poverty line of US$1.25 per day.

The national electricity coverage is about 34%, and about 89% of this is in the Greater Banjul Area (GBA), where it is mainly used for household purposes (Ministry of Energy 2009). The scattered rural off-grid population, with women and children as the majority, has limited and unreliable access to energy services. This   situation presents serious hurdles for the development of women in these areas.

Consequently, in 2016, UNDP and the Government of The Gambia initiated a Pilot Solar PV lightning empowerment project through a local NGO called FANDEMA Association, in the off-grid community of MAMUDA, in the West Coast Region. The objective of the project is to enable off-grid communities access reliable energy services, reduce energy poverty, alleviate household workload and enhance community livelihood through sustainable income generating activities, as well as protect the environment and ensure food security.

The pilot project is based on a renewable energy access initiative to reduce poverty and enhance the well-being of women through the installation of a 6KWp PV standalone system to supply household light, and provide opportunities for productive uses in a rural off-grid community. The community of MAMUDA has about 1,500 residents. As a pilot, 19 compounds, with 32% female headed households, were identified to benefit from the lighting, and the entire village for some missed services to reduce women’s workload. The Solar facility is housed in a solid bioclimatic house, and will provide the community with basic lighting and water supply.

Energy for lighting in each of the 19 compounds, lighting for two social activities in the community, mainstream gender in the energy chain (female trained solar technicians will be responsible for the installation and maintenance), income generating activities such as laundry services, ice-block making, millet milling machine, mobile charging, cooling groceries.

Fresh water supply for laundry service, laundry grey water is used for watering banana and orange trees in the nearby orchard, community use for water sanitation
The overall impact of this project is positive: It reduces women’s unpaid household workload and enables the girl child to attend school regularly. The income generating activities empowers women economically, they are low carbon and have minimal environmental  risks.

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