This project distributes solar technologies to rural communities in Kenya. “Using Solar Ovens in Rural Communities in Nyakach Region to Mitigate Climate Change” provides the solar cooking and lighting technology free of charge to stimulate a transition away from firewood use. The initiative aims to reduce deforestation while improving the lives of women.
500 households provided with solar technology in pilot project
1,500 households to receive solar technology in expanded project
475,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent saved over two years
The Nyakach region in central-western Kenya is one of the poorest in the country. There is little access to firewood, so the approximately half a million people living there gather wood from remaining forests as an energy source. This has caused severe deforestation, which in turn negatively affects local residents, for example in the form of soil erosion.
This project delivers a clean, economical, and convenient way for people in Nyakach to carry out their daily cooking and water-boiling needs. Supported in part by Kenya’s Resource Hub for Development, households in 31 villages in the region will be provided with a solar kit. This consists of a solar oven, a solar photovoltaic panel, two solar lamps, and a solar flashlight – all for free. The families cannot afford to buy such items – a setup like this would cost 20 per cent of the yearly income for a typical household there.
In addition to providing the technology, the project will also set up points in the villages where people can bring the cookers for free repair or replacement. Each family will receive an instruction manual, and a cookbook of regional recipes adapted to the solar oven to stimulate its use.
Helping the planet
Solar ovens and lights reduce the demand for wood fuel, helping avert further deforestation. This can even contribute to conservation of threatened and endemic species, like the blue gum tree. Switching from wood fuel or kerosene use also reduces emissions of greenhouse gases. This includes the emissions associated with the transport of such fuels to more remote regions.
Since solar energy is free, villagers can save money, which they can use for example on education. The project specifically benefits women and girls, as it reduces wood-fired cooking, which in turn creates unhealthy indoor air. Women and girls are also relieved of the arduous task of collecting firewood. As solar ovens will be built locally, this also provides employment opportunities.
This project has already grown out of a pilot project. Because maintenance costs are negligible and benefits are great, it is hoped that communities will embrace the solar technologies, creating a change in mentality that can spread.
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