Linking Clean Power and Gender Equality to Enhance Livelihoods

Photo: A street scene in Nigeria, credit Joshua Oluwagbe via Unsplash.

In the area of the Konexa renewable energy project in Nigeria, over 90 per cent of households live on less than US$200 a month. The poverty is further exacerbated by an unemployment rate of 87 per cent and most income is generated informally.  Women especially are disadvantaged through structural inequalities. Renewable energy sources are often inaccessible for women as the cost of alternative energy sources is high.

The Project’s community development programme was designed to address these structural issues. The result was a programme which, coupled with the installation of a solar mini-grid, delivered a sustainable livelihoods programme.  

Along with electrification of two villages (Chikaji Gwari and Chikaji Tsakiya) and 88 new connections, the programme also involved deployment of solar-powered productive use appliances through an appliance financing mechanism, and a village loans and savings scheme which was established to increase their access to credit and ownership of productive assets. Vocational training included farmer field schools, and women-focused training focused on other income-generating activities that can help to address the seasonality of income that results from crop production alone.

Longer term impacts of this programme include an increase in employment opportunities for women, along with alleviation of seasonal poverty through reduced reliance on agricultural income. Participant-led programmes such as this one are vital for empowering communities to build new skills and create new opportunities.