The importance of local community involvement

The-importance-of-local-community-involvementThe objective of this recently completed project, FED/2011/231-578 ”Community Based Green Energy Project”, was to increase access to modern, affordable and sustainable energy services for 301,996 households, 88 social institutions and 64 rural community groups in rural and peri-urban areas of Kenya. By installing solar PV units and increasing awareness of the importance of energy system management and sustainable environmental protection, local communities not only have the opportunity to generate an income but the accessibility of education, health and other services dependent on energy have improved.

The implementer, the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD), worked in partnership with three local Catholic dioceses and one private technical partner. The involvement of local implementing partners ensures project sustainability through their local knowledge. The project is owned by local communities including school and health committee members. This means that students, staff and local communities are responsible for the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the systems. Most management committees have raised funds from their own communities to cover repairs as they arise.

The ”Community Based Green Energy Project” has proven the importance of collaborating with well-established and recognised local implementing partners. In this case, the dioceses of Kitui and Isiolo have more than a decade of experience of supporting rural community development initiatives in their districts. Through their work, they have established strong relationships with the rural and peri-urban communities and local authorities. The private local partner, Solar Works East Africa Ltd, is one of the leading solar companies in Africa, and has been directly engaged in the design and installation of renewable energy systems in rural areas for individuals and institutions, including schools, health centres and churches.

Throughout the project implementation, CAFOD staff has provided regular technical support to partners through site visits, as well as online support. The local County Government provides first-line support or, in the case that the problem cannot be resolved locally, they contact Solar Works East Africa for further technical assistance.

The partners are continuing to provide support to the target communities long after project completion due to their presence in the region. There was a total of 386,520 beneficiaries of the project as of the 1st of May 2015, exceeding the original target.