Alternative energy reduces poverty in Somalia

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is running an energy and livelihood project that aims to increase access to renewable energy sources and reduce poverty for hundreds of thousands of impoverished individuals within the states of Puntland and Somaliland in northern Somalia.

The Somalia Energy and Livelihoods Project (SELP) is based on a joint needs assessment that was conducted by ADRA in 2005. The assessment revealed that more than 95 percent of Somalia’s low-income population has no access to electricity. It also showed that 87 percent of the total energy utilized in Somalia originated from biomass fuels, such as wood, charcoal, and crop waste.

The primary goal of SELP, which was launched in 2007, is to strengthen the livelihood capacities of the targeted population by promoting the use of alternative energy options, such as solar thermal technologies, wind pumps, and energy-efficient cookstoves.

"The role of energy in development and poverty reduction cannot be overemphasized," said Samuel Muthamia, programs assistant for ADRA Somalia. "It affects all aspects of development—social, economic, and environmental, impacting a people’s livelihoods, access to water, agricultural productivity, health, education, and even gender-related issues."

Some of the activities that ADRA conducts to meet the primary goal, include the installation of solar and wind energy equipment in schools and health centers and raising awareness of alternative energy options through trainings and trade fairs.

ADRA also works with local institutions, providing training on how to install, manage, and promote the sustainable use of these services and helping them to build marketing and dissemination strategies that promote alternative energy services in rural areas.

The project also includes training workshops that enhance the skills of cookstove producers in Puntland and Somaliland, helping them to build better products. SELP’s training workshops have increased the number of technicians in the solar energy industry in the region, more effectively meeting the needs of the burgeoning alternative energy market.

By the project’s conclusion in October 2010, ADRA will have assisted more than 281,000 people through this initiative.

The project is implemented by ADRA Somalia in coordination with the governments of Somaliland and Puntland, local authorities and the local community. The European Commission funds this project, in partnership with the ADRA United Kingdom office for approximately $3 million.

ADRA has been operating in Somalia since 1992, implementing emergency relief and development interventions in various sectors, including water, primary health, education, food security, infrastructure, institutional capacity building and economic development.

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