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‘Clean Energy Villages’ in Kenya – helping protect forests and tackle poverty

 

How do you cook your food? How do you light your home?

Imagine 95% of the people in a village next to a forest depending on firewood for cooking and that most of this cooking is done using inefficient stoves

Now imagine they depend on that forest as the main source of firewood since many of them lack trees on their farms to provide a sustainable source of fuel.

Children and women are the ones mostly involved in firewood gathering. Photo: Elias Kimaru / WWFChildren and women are the ones mostly involved in firewood gathering.
Photo: Elias Kimaru / WWF

This is the situation in most villages in Kwale. It’s a state of affairs that has contributed to loss of forest, land degradation, and increased poverty in an already impoverished community. It also affects people in other ways.

Children, particularly girls, miss out on education because of the time they spend gathering firewood. Women and girls put themselves in danger when they comb the forests for wood fuel. It also leads to health problems, especially respiratory illnesses as a result of exposure to smoke.

Most people also depend on kerosene for lighting and spend close to 40% of their income to buy this fuel.

Fortunately, this might soon be a thing of the past! WWF, in partnership with others, is working to improve access to sustainable, clean and efficient energy.

The project will promote ‘clean energy villages’, including household solar energy for lighting, energy saving stoves for cooking and on-farm tree planting. We’ve already mapped out the pilot villages and planted 4,500 trees in some of these. We have also acquired 300 solar lanterns.  The pilot project alone will benefit over 1,200 people.

A man points to where he normally cooks. The project will help provide people with energy efficient alternatives.A man points to where he normally cooks. The project will help provide people with energy efficient alternatives.

The project will result in a significant cut in the amount of time spent gathering firewood and cooking, leading to increased time for study for children and income generating activities for women. It will also provide health benefits by limiting exposure to smoke from tin lamps and traditional cooking devices and help tackle climate change through reducing land degradation and the loss of forests.

The people supported by the project will gain knowledge and experience in establishing and maintaining energy-efficient cooking stoves, solar lighting and setting up woodlands.

Your continued support, through Size of Wales, will mean we can achieve even more. We hope to expand the project to five more villages and benefit over 20,000 people including children in the next two years. Your support counts.

What do you think of this project? Let us know in the comments below.

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