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Women in Rural Kenya are Saving to Purchase Clean Energy For Improving Living Standards

More than 40 percent of the world's population do not have access to clean fuels for cooking and 10 percent does not have access to electricity. (Photo: JJArts Photography)

For decades, Women and girls living in the rural areas in the Sub-Sahara Africa face challenges of Lack of access to clean energy and this has affected their health, economic conditions and contributes to climate change.

These women and girls face discrimination by spending hours traveling for kilometers to collect, chop wood and buy kerosene to cook for their families as men and boys chase their careers and businesses for economic empowerment.

Mary Moraa from Emborogo village, Nyaribari Masaba constituency used to wake up at exactly 4:30 am to prepare breakfast for her three children, she would light fire in one of the rooms which serves as a kitchen and a bedroom for her two girls, it took her about an hour to prepare porridge and a snack for her children and at exactly 6:00am they step out for school.

Moraa is left to perform house chores before she packs some breakfast for her husband and joins him in the farm which is their main source of income.

"At around 11:30 I would break and go back to the house to prepare lunch for the children before they could come home for a meal, and at 12:45 lunch is ready," says Moraa

Since she was 12 years, 45 -year-old Moraa has been using a three stone cooker and wood to prepare meals for her family spending several hours collecting firewood and getting into the kitchen was difficult; spending extra hours in the smoke to cook for her family since she was 12 years, this was her role as a young girl and now a wife.

The smoke from the burning wood irritated her eyes and chest, this made her sneeze and cough, smoke would increase gradually especially when the wood was wet.

"During evening hours, I would get to the kitchen as early as 5:00pm to start preparing for supper and spends several hours cooking and when caught up with darkness, I lit up a kerosine lamp to provide me with light as I finished cooking as my husband helped the kids with homework" she adds.

After clearing the dining, she could help the kids get to bed and then clean the utensils before retiring to bed. This was a life Moraa and other women in this village were used to, a life of polluted fuel from their houses which affected their health conditions due to economic hardships to get clean energy for cooking and lighting.

Turning a savings group into a clean energy project.

Moraa and other women in the village had a merry-go round savings project for contributions to purchase household and food stuffs such as utensils and beddings, cooking oil, sugar, rice and washing soup.

"We opted to use the group to purchase cooking gas for each member, with 20 members we decided to purchase two cooking gas cylinders for two members per month," says the group chairlady Hildah Nyaboke.

Nyaboke says, after members raised concerns of using the group to purchase six kilograms of gas cylinders, members recommended for the implementation of this idea and this took them 10 months to purchase gas cylinders for each member in their group.

"With limited laws we are not able to add new members till five years elapse then we will open room for new members," Nyaboke says.

Members also came up with the idea of acquiring solar panels to help them light their homes instead of using kerosine to perform chores in the evening.

Nyaboke says, members agreed to increase their contributions from Sh500 to Sh700 to enable them purchase and install the solar panels.

"We have purchased and installed the solar panels for six of our members and we are hoping by the end of this year, everyone is sorted with the solar panels to make it easy for them while carrying their daily activities," she states.

Judy Nyakerario one of the solar panel beneficiaries says, she no longer hurries to get home from her shop to go and cook for the family before darkness gets in, she is able to extend her business to 8:00pm, the goes home to cook for her family.

"I spend at most 30 minutes in the kitchen to prepare and serve a meal to my family, the children are able to extend their studies up to 10.00 pm because we have power supply thought the night" says Nyakerario.

Nyakerario has now opened a salon and a barber shop outside her home compound, here she also does phone charging with some small costs and the whole business has boosted her earnings, she says she is able to pay fees for her children and even purchased a cow which gives them milk.

"For a few of us who have received the solar panels and the cooking gas cylinders, life has changed and we are able to take care of our families, saving a lot of time we used to waste walking for kilometers to fetch firewood," said Nyakerario.

More than 40 percent of the world's population do not have access to clean fuels for cooking and 10 percent does not have access to electricity.

Innovation and digitalization of clean energy are key components in energy transition to renewable energy.

Sensitization on the importance of green energy

Kisii Women representative Dorice Aburi has already sensitized a number of these women on the effects of tradition sources of energy such as wood to their health and says solar energy provides clean, reliable, and affordable electricity for lighting, cooking, and powering other appliances,

The women rep who is currently implementing a project of Donya charity mission to help the vulnerable in the villages says during these meetings she empowers these women with knowledge on the importance of clean energy to the environment and to their healthy living.

This reduces the need for kerosene lamps, wood stoves, and other traditional energy sources that contribute to emission of greenhouse gas.

The Women rep has empowered these women with the knowledge on biogas plants which are produced by the anaerobic digestion of organic waste such as manure and kitchen waste. she says Biogas can be used for cooking and lighting, reducing the reliance on wood fuel and charcoal, which contribute to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

"Renewable energy improves the health of these women and their families by reducing exposure to indoor air pollution from traditional stoves such as traditional ways of three stone cookers," says Dorice Aburi.

She noted, young girls are able to access education like boys by studying longer from their well-lit homes and this will help them improve their academic performance.

County government to provide echo friendly stoves for clean energy

Kisii County Minister of Environment water, energy, Natural resources and climate change Ronald Nyakweba says the county assembly already passed the climate change bill which will be driven by three committees to spearhead activities of creating awareness, sourcing for funds, mitigating and responding to effects of climate change.

Further, Nyankweba says the county has entered a memorandum of understanding with an NGO which will provide echo friendly stoves which do not emit carbon and its targeting 200 households in the county. The echo friendly stoves will be going for Ksh.200 from the Ksh.2000 market price.

"Members of staff have already been trained and they are going to provide these stoves to the vulnerable in the villages This will reduce carbon emission to up to 50% as a way of mitigating climate change," says the minister.

The committee will help us unlock the flocked funds from the National Treasury and the county is expected to get Sh32 million which will help them conduct climate change activities.

The county is in discussions with donors to provide them with solar panels which they will use to power all health facilities in mitigating climate change. The ministry of energy study on Kenya's household cooking sector study indicates there are efforts to transform the cooking sector from the highly dependent from traditional cooking to clean cooking solutions.

The study shows 80 percent of an estimated 6.2 million households use only one cooking option solely on charcoal or firewood.

Source: Capital FM


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