Promoting people-centred, decentralized renewable energy in Kenya
More than 35 per cent of Kenya’s population lack electricity, most of them living in rural areas. The situation is worse for Garissa County where electricity access is less than one per cent. This aggravates food insecurity, water scarcity and vulnerability to climate change. It affects the general health and well-being of residents in Garissa. The IKI Small Grants project installs solar mini grids to enable farmers to access new sources of water through solar powered pumping for agricultural purposes. In this way the project contributes to increase the access to renewable energy, providing 1,200 residents with environmentally friendly energy. With this the project enhances the access to people-centred, environmentally as well as socially appropriate renewable energy. It improves community livelihoods and is further supported by informed and sustained advocacy that transforms the policy environment for renewables in Kenya.
Garissa County in Kenya is a semi-arid and water scarce area where only 24 per cent of the people have access to clean water. Firewood and charcoal are the primary sources of energy for cooking. The district’s economy is highly dependent on natural resources and therefore very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The increasing frequency and intensity of droughts and floods threaten people’s livelihoods, especially in the context of the climate-water-energy nexus. Kenya’s energy sector is composed of 70 per cent biomass, 9 per cent electricity and 21 per cent imported oil. In addition, there is a significant gap in policy support for decentralised renewable energy investments, while fossil fuels are mostly used in off-grid areas.
The direct beneficiaries of the project in Garissa are community members (men, women, and youth), and the local authority of Garissa County government. The project targets 130 households in Garissa County and about 1,200 people of which 50 per cent are women.
APPROACH AND ACTIVITIES
The IKI Small Grants project aims to enhance the access to sustainable renewable energy for underserved communities to improve their living conditions. For the installation of solar mini grids, the organisation identifies local public institutions such as schools, health facilities and police posts to provide necessary lighting solutions as public good. A private company installs the water pumping system, which is powered by the mini grid.
To maintain the installed infrastructure, community committee members receive trainings on its maintenance and management. The organisation establishes a gender balanced committee whose members receive a maintenance, management, and financial management training to ensure the infrastructure’s longevity. Another training aims to raise awareness and sensitise the whole local community to the importance of renewable energy.
The project further aims to mainstream the use of clean energy and gender empowerment in county energy plans. For this, Power Shift Africa (PSA) organises meetings and workshops with different county energy stakeholders including the Garissa district government, the private sector, civil society organisations and local communities. Furthermore, the organisation prepares a new energy plan in consultation with the county government that enables the use of clean energy to meet the region’s energy needs.
PSA organises and facilitates advocacy forums on energy transition policy for different stakeholders. This involves organising multistakeholder workshops and roundtables at the national level. The project aims to build a dynamic multi-stakeholder team in Garissa to advocate for renewable energy investments in off-grid areas of the county, including powering water points. In addition, PSA organises nationwide studies on energy demand and the share of renewable energy, facilitates stakeholders’ workshops to discuss those findings and communicates them through social media.
IKI Small Grants supports PSA in their organisational capacity development through technical trainings on solar projects.
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
Power Shift Africa is a NGO that was founded in 1992. Its mission is to mobilise climate action in Africa and amplify African voices by presenting a unified, evidence-based message to governments, media, and other stakeholders. In doing so, the organisation aims to support a shift in energy policy towards low-carbon alternatives and emancipatory energy solutions, as well as increased media and public relations efforts, and to make this voice heard internationally.