Author: Lukas Gavril Gnaur

Access to modern and sustainable energy services in Mali

The Project, Access to modern and sustainable energy services, in Mali has successfully distributed 4000 improved stoves and 5000 solar powered lamps in cooperation with local women’s groups in 60 villages. The women’s groups have been organized in 4 umbrella organizations that manages their own funds. Currently, the associations have much more working capital than the initial sum they started with, and are continuously ordering new equipment based on the demand of women in the local villages.

The rural areas in Mali often have to deal with very inefficient energy solutions, such as a pot on three stones for cooking, and low quality battery-torches or kerosene lamps for lighting. Although these areas have a great potential for introducing more efficient solutions that can benefit women in terms of time and resources, the lack of economic resources and effective distribution systems remain a significant barrier.

The project has identified villages that already had functioning women’s groups, which were organized into associations, and whose members have received training in literacy, counting and management. The associations were provided with an initial sum to start a working capital and have since been responsible for ordering and distributing improved stoves and solar lamps from suppliers – to great effect, given that the current working capital is much higher than the initial sum.

“The lamps give freedom; you can do many things with them and the children have the lighting to study” says a member of the Kotongontala association in the Bougouni Cercle.

 

The various village groups distribute the equipment and collect reimbursement from its members, which includes the cost of the equipment as well as an interest for the associations. AMADER, Agency of the Malian government, has been involved in the project to ensure that the stoves follows the national standards and to strengthen the replication of the approach to other poor rural areas in Mali.

New power line to Muhura and Bugurura

The Muhura power line project has ensured that social services in the cities of Muhura and Bugurura,  such as hospitals, schools, and high schools, as well as households, traders, and various workshops have been connected to a stable supply of electricity. Thus, the Muhura power line project has had a profound social and economic impact.

Formerly, various social services have depended on diesel generators for their supply of power. But the generators have proved too costly in maintenance and diesel expenses. A few households and traders have had small and unreliable solar panels installed and for more electricity demanding tasks, such as welding, people have travelled to the capital, Kigali to use the workshops there, but after the project, there are now several workshops in the area thanks to the power supply.

The two cities are experiencing a boom in economic activities that, according to the head of the Umudugu in Muhura, are clearly visible, “The city is much improved. Now, we can do the same things here as in Kigali. We now have local workshops – mills, welding – a hairdresser’s salon, cold drinks.”

In order to connect the two cities with a stable and strong supply of electricity, the project build a power line that runs 15 kilometres from the Rwandan national power line to Muhura, the district capital of Gatsibo.  A distribution network has been installed to sustain the various social services, traders and households in the two cities. Through this project the social services have been connected to the distribution network, whereas connecting households, traders and other private customers is an ongoing process that is handled by the Rwandan electricity company, EUCL.

 

New efficient stoves and charcoal-production techniques in Rwanda

The CASE project has successfully helped in countering deforestation in Rwanda, by introducing more efficient stoves as well as efficient techniques for producing charcoal, affecting approximately 145,000 people.  

Deforestation is a huge environmental issue in all East-African countries. Having lost more than 25% of its forests over the past 40 years, Rwanda is no exception. 96 % of Rwandans still depend on wood for domestic energy – the alternatives being either unreliable or unaffordable – and the demand for land and the degradation of natural resources will only increase. This emphasizes the importance of countering deforestation and finding sustainable solutions to the energy needs of the population.

The main driver behind the deforestation is the use of firewood and especially charcoal for cooking in urban areas. The charcoal is often produced in rural areas far from where it is sold. The CASE project hasfirst of allattempted to reduce the demand for firewood and charcoal, by introducing more efficient stoves. Second, to increase the income of the beneficiaries, the project has helped them to master techniques for producing charcoal. 

The project has helped local authorities to assume their vital role and, with previous experience with Village savings and Loan-groups (VSLs), the project lead, Care Rwanda, used these as a platform for selecting project beneficiaries. A research facility has been responsible for selecting stove models as well as training local stove producers, and an NGO, which specialized in charcoal production, has handled that component.

This setup has produced strong results and the technical solutions, adapted to the local context, have created a lasting impact affecting approximately 145,000 people.  Today, 7 years later, the stoves introduced in the project are still working, and are used and appreciated. The local charcoal-producers are almost exclusively applying the techniques learnt in the project and local authorities are effectively protecting forest resources in cooperation with the charcoal-producers.