Mar 8, 2021

HELPING AFRICAN WOMEN ACHIEVE THEIR POTENTIAL

Empowering women by boosting their livelihoods is central to our mission. During International Women’s Week, it is important to remember that the costs of poor energy access fall disproportionately on women and girls, depriving them of life and employment opportunities. We believe that when women are given the opportunity to contribute to economic growth, it results in a fairer society and better outcomes for the entire community. Working to achieve gender equity is at the heart of all our programmes that develop off-grid energy markets in under-served African communities.

That’s why we feel strongly about addressing the technical and business skills gaps that hold women back as well as the market development barriers limiting their full potential. When these constraints are addressed, women have a much better chance of running successful businesses and generating sustainable incomes for themselves and for their families. Their participation in the economy enables more people to have access to new services, products and energy. 

Since July 2019 we have helped 225 women entrepreneurs in Kenya and Tanzania to become proficient in manufacturing, assembling and selling improved cookstoves as a result of applying new, market development, business and financial management skills. The Jiko Smart cookstove model is up to 40% more energy efficient than the traditional models, which means that it requires less fuel, relieving women and girls of a huge burden of time and labour. Jiko Smart cookstoves also reduce emission of harmful gases and reduce the time required to boil water and cook food.

Through their improved business acumen, the women entrepreneurs we support have been able to produce and sell 354,733 units of improved cookstoves over six months. This is an equivalent to achieving improved energy access for 263,376 people while saving 206,750 tons of carbon emissions across the lifespan of the cookstoves. 

We are now planning to scale up this urgent work. Your donation will enable us to provide more women in rural Kenya and Tanzania with business and technology training and mentorship, as well as access to finance and marketing opportunities so we can achieve a deeper and wider impact. 

Thank you for your continued support.

Nov 13, 2020

How solar light is dimming poverty for people in need

Greetings! I hope this project update finds you safe and well.

Over the past four months, Energy 4 Impact has been working hard to ensure that vulnerable people across the poorest regions in Kenya have solar power installed in their homes. As the following stories illustrate, solar energy has made a vital difference in the quality of their lives. 

Karisa is a 71 year-old widower living in a small mud hut alongside seven of his children. The solar system on his roof provides bright indoor light that enables his children to study in the evening. The motion detection sensor of the external light also helps his family feel more secure at night. Karisa is now able to save the $14 per month he would have spent on candles and paraffin. He can also recharge his phone easily in his own home. Moreover, the solar kit enabled him to listen to the radio during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, so helping him to stay informed about the spread of the virus through his region. 

Kazungu lives in a tin-roofed mud hut with his wife and four children. Before the fitting of indoor electric bulbs, his children suffered from red eyes and runny noses from the smoke of burning paraffin. Not only has their health improved, the bright light also help his children study in the evening. For a casual worker like Kazungu, the restrictions imposed to control the coronavirus pandemic have had a dire effect on his already precarious income. Saving the money previously spent on candles and phone charging fees is therefore helping Kizungu and his family stay afloat during this turbulent period. 

Kadzo is a 53 year-old mother of six from a small rural village. She testifies that living without electricity is often a frightening and isolating experience. Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has plunged the country into crisis, at least her solar powered radio has helped the family stay informed and entertained. Kadzo was also able to track the latest news on the crisis:  ‘Were it not for the radio, we would have very little knowledge of COVID-19’. 

Mwenda is a 44 year-old widow living in a modest mud house with four school-age children. Apart from providing lighting inside and outside her house, the new solar system allows Mwenda to offer a phone-charging service to her neighbours, generating a modest income stream that helps feed her family. Her neighbours also benefit from this phone-charging service as it enables them to stay on call for casual work coming up at short notice. Previously, the expense of paraffin meant Mwenda had to limit the time her children spent on homework in the evening, but now electric lighting allows unlimited reading time. When the coronavirus pandemic forced the closure of schools, her children could follow some educational programmes on the radio. ‘I don’t know how it could be without this radio,’ says Mwenda. ‘It keeps my children learning rather than idling around.’ 

Solar technologies offer a safe and affordable way to light unelectrified homes, schools, clinics and businesses. But too many poor communities in Africa still live without access to electricity. By lighting up these communities, solar power helps lift them out of the most abject poverty. We thank you for your generous contributions so far and gratefully ask you to keep supporting our work

Warmest wishes

Alessandra

Jul 17, 2020

Helping African clinics adapt to COVID-19

Greetings! 2020 is proving a turbulent year for people across the globe so I hope this email finds you safe and comfortable.

At such a distressing time it is important to share positive news too. So I would love to give you an encouraging update about a Kenyan health centre that has resourcefully adapted to the challenges of coronavirus. It provides an inspiring example of how healthcare professionals have mobilised to protect their communities during such unprecedented times.

Kwale is an impoverished rural region on the Kenyan coast with little infrastructure development. Access to affordable and reliable electricity plays a major part in the provision of healthcare services in the area. Located in Kwale, the health centre and dispensary of Mkanyeni has remained fully operational, thanks to the generosity of donors to our Powering Villages project.

When the pandemic forced Kenya into lockdown back in March, the facility was able to continue to provide its services at increased capacity. Covid-19 cases in Kenya are only handled at larger public hospitals, newly established county facilities and accredited private hospitals. Electrified with the help of Energy 4 Impact, Mkanyeni is a level 2 facility that has no direct role in treating patients with coronavirus, but remains nevertheless crucial for the provision of essential services.

The facility offers services to the rural communities such as antenatal, maternity, family planning cervical cancer screening, outpatient consultation, HIV screening and child welfare services (immunisation, growth monitoring and nutrition).

The solar PV system installed by Energy 4 Impact has allowed the clinic to provide improved services even late in the evening thanks to well-lit consultation rooms and enhanced security lighting. It has also enabled the clinic to power appliances such as a fridge where they now store vaccines at the required standard temperature. In addition, expenditure related to using a diesel generator has reduced.

The quality of services provided at the facility has markedly improved. The facility’s clinical officer Simon Magondu says, “We have been able to continue providing health services at this facility despite the pandemic. These services are being offered in strict compliance with Ministry of Health guidelines about washing hands at the entrance, wearing a mask whilst on the premises and observing appropriate social distancing.”

However, the pandemic has also thrown up unique challenges that will require modification of practices at the clinic. Other clinics involved in the Powering Villages project will also need to implement similar adaptations such as:

  • purchasing personal protection equipment (PPE) for the staff.
  • community mobilisation on COVID 19 awareness.
  • purchasing more seats to ensure social distancing
  • purchasing more appliances for screening purposes, e.g. standard handwashing containers and thermos guns for taking body temperature

Further financial assistance would allow health centres to maintain a continuity of care and service to their communities despite the challenges of the pandemic.

Please check out the attached photos which help give a clearer idea of the difference that your generous donations are making!

Clean energy is needed now more urgently than ever, so thank you so much for supporting our Powering Villages project.

Kind Regards

Alessandra

 
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