Community-based adaptation to climate change in rural Senegal

Description of the project: CREATE! collaborates with eight rural Senegalese communities to help residents 1) gain access to abundant and affordable clean water using renewable solar energy; 2) reduce deforestation and desertification through tree planting programs and the widespread use of locally built fuel-efficient clay/sand improved cook stoves; and 3) improve their health and security through sustainable agriculture and other income generating activities. CREATE! empowers village women for self-development, using training strategies based on local knowledge, participation, and social mobilization to maximize self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

Climate Impact: Rural Senegal is experiencing drought, deforestation, and desertification resulting from climate change. CREATE! programs train and empower rural women to reduce deforestation, promote alternative energy technologies, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Solar-powered pumps in our villages’ rehabilitated wells provide year-round access to clean water without producing carbon emissions. During our 2015 reforestation campaign, women-led cooperatives in CREATE! communities planted 19,000 tree seedlings throughout their villages. Trees serve as windbreaks and stabilize soils to slow desertification in Senegal. This campaign, in conjunction with the widespread use of fuel-saving improved cook stoves, is helping to combat deforestation. The Senegalese government honored CREATE! for these contributions on World Environment Day in 2015.

Gender Impact: In CREATE! partner villages, women and their families now have access to clean water, fresh food, and income generating opportunities. Our programs improve the health and safety of rural women while simultaneously reducing their workload. Because improved cook stoves use less wood, women can gather wood (and risk their safety) less frequently. Improved cook stoves also produce less smoke and reduce the risk of burns. With access to water, women can now work in female-led agricultural cooperatives to grow healthy vegetables throughout the year. Fresh vegetables improve diets and help women earn an income by selling produce in local markets. CREATE! programs empower women by helping them build financial security for their families through cooperative gardening, income generating programs, and community savings and lending associations.

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A new adaptation initiative to disseminate the use of renewable energy while promoting women’s empowerment

Description of the project: Lojas de Energias is an initiative adapted by Gilda Monjane, in 2011, as a way to fill a gap in infrastructure for rural off-grid areas. The initiative promotes female entrepreneurship in order to reinforce women’s economic empowerment at the same time that it is aiming to supply clean and renewable forms of energy for rural villagers living in off-grid areas. At the energy shops one can buy improved cook stoves and photovoltaic systems. One can also re-charge lamps and mobile phones and buy low energy-use light bulbs. Some shops also sell gas for cooking.

Climate Impact: Energy shops sell environmental friendly material like improved stoves, low energy-consumption bulbs, PV systems powered by the sun, and rechargeable bulbs. Additionally, the women managing different shops are trained to be able to explain the advantages of the different products they sell and share environmental messages about the effects of climate change. We believe this will have positive implications for the community.

Gender Impact: The initiative contributes to increasing the numbers of women employed in wage employment. The shops intend to fill a gap by creating a new infrastructure, especially for the rural areas, which contributes to economic empowerment of rural women. The enterprises help to create jobs for people in the rural areas, for women in particular, and for girls that finish school in the rural areas and have no options to continue with their education in their home villages. People stop using kerosene and firewood to light and warm their houses and start using PV energy which is cleaner and healthier and, allows them to save money.

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Rainwater harvesting and conservation training for women farmers

Description of the project: Rain is the only source of water for drinking and domestic usage in rain fed areas. PODA is implementing projects in 27 villages of the Chakwal District that are highly vulnerable to climate change and prolonged drought. Technical capacity-building trainings of women farmers are spreading awareness among communities on how to harvest every drop of rain for drinking, domestic usage and food production. The PODA team conducts trainings and technical assistance of women in rooftop construction, rainwater harvesting, runoff farming, storm flow conservation, benching and terracing of agriculture, micro catchments, solar pump systems; and using in-situ rainwater for sustainable food production.

Climate Impact: Food productivity is being affected by climate change including shifts in rainfall patterns, drought, temperature hikes, changes in sowing and harvesting dates, and water and land quality. This project is based on innovative adaptation technologies in order to mitigate excess usage of natural resources. Rainwater conservation by women has had excellent impacts on food security and saves water in order to reduce flooding in downstream areas. Extreme climatic events and prolonged droughts can be coped with efficiently with this project and, as a result, the demand on other natural resources will be limited. Water-borne diseases and hunger are reduced and nutrition and health are efficiently delivered with adaptation to climatic conditions.

Gender Impact: Women who are highly vulnerable to extreme climate change are trained well for adaptation under this project. As a result, women farmers are practicing multiple rainwater harvesting technologies to save water for future use. This project positively impacts on rural women’s lives and reduces their daily work to gather water from long distances for drinking and sustainable food production. Women farmers are collecting rainwater and utilizing it for kitchen gardening for their family’s consumption. This also empowers women economically. Issues faced by women farmers regarding both groundwater pollution and water scarcity for drinking, livestock and domestic use are addressed and sorted out in the targeted project area.

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Solar Sister eradicates energy poverty by empowering women with economic opportunity

Description of the project: Solar Sister combines the breakthrough potential of clean energy technology with a deliberately woman-centered direct sales network to bring light, hope and opportunity to even the most remote communities in rural Africa. Solar Sister eradicates energy poverty through empowering women with economic opportunity and we promote women‘s leadership to build a brighter future. Investing in women is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. Solar Sister creates sustainable businesses, powered by smart investments in women entrepreneurs.

Climate Impact: Solar Sister is increasing access to solar and clean cooking technologies. Solar lamps replace kerosene, which produce toxic fumes, black carbon, and increase risk of burns. More efficient cook stoves reduce fuel use by 30-60%, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions and reducing impacts on forests, habitats, and biodiversity.

Gender Impact: Solar Sister is a women-led social enterprise working at the forefront of women‘s leadership for gender just climate action. Since 2010, Solar Sister has built a thriving network of 2000 women entrepreneurs who have brought clean energy access to over 350 000 people across Sub-Saharan Africa. Solar Sister‘s CEO is a women, over 86% of the staff and over 57% of our board are women. We are showing that women‘s leadership is needed at all levels for lasting change. Solar Sister entrepreneurs are farmers, nurses, school teachers, basket weavers, community mobilizers – all making the world brighter and better!

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A forest-dependent women‘s initiative to enhance community resilience to climate change

Description of the project: Forest-dependent women organized themselves into groups, communally constructed fuel-saving stoves and replaced their kerosene (fossil fuel) lamps with solar lighting (an alternative renewable energy). They also constructed water harvesting tanks and planted trees. The women established forest-based, non-extractive income generating activities like beekeeping for honey and medicinal plant cultivation and processing. They also reached out to schools with sustainable livelihood practices with the aim of nurturing successive generations in these conservation efforts. The initiative creates synergies by implementing recommendations of the Multilateral Environment Agreements in an integrated manner.

Climate Impact: The project has had the effect of contributing to global efforts to reduce global warming and mitigate climate change by conserving the natural tropical forest of Rwoho, a carbon sink of international significance. This has been done by implementing activities aimed at reducing the human footprint on the forest and maintaining its integrity. The initiative has planted 2 137 hectares of the Rwoho Natural Forest buffer zone with 2 374 207 trees absorbing 1 282 200 tons of Carbon per rotation (Twenty Year Period). By promoting household and school use of fuel efficient stoves, the initiative has reduced consumption of woody biomass from the average 147 Kg per household per month to 100 Kgs per household per month. As a result the initiative has reduced the threat from fire within the natural, tropical forest of Rwoho from 76% to 10%.

Gender Impact: Century old traditional practices have left women without education, skills and their own productive resources from the land that they toil. This project has taken this into account. The initiative promoting honey production is an income generating activity that is not labour or capital intensive and does not require a lot of land in order to cater to women who lack productive resources. Using fuel saving stoves and installing water harvesting capacity reduces the workload of women who traditionally have the responsibility of gathering fuel wood and collecting water. The women are the owners of this initiative and they democratically elect their Governing Board annually. The initiative is creating awareness and imparting skills to women in fuel-efficient stove construction. These are marketable skills that women can use to get employment to earn a living.

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Windfang: A women‘s cooperative that projects, builds and runs wind turbines

Description of the project: We are the first (and only) women run and operated energy cooperative in Germany. In 1991, a group of women studying engineering and natural sciences decided they wanted to contribute more to the energy transition than just protesting and discussions. They decided to build their own wind turbine on a family property in stormy Dithmarschen. And, they wanted to do it themselves, without men. Twenty-four years later, Windfang owns eleven wind turbines and three solar plants. In 2014, Windfang’s first 2.5 MW turbine was installed, increasing Windfang’s renewable electricity generation to more than 11 000 MW hours/year and, as a result enabled our cooperative to pay more than a 4%return on investment to our associates.

Climate Impact: The goal of our cooperative is the production of environmentally friendly, sustainable energy. Every woman who buys a share therefore supports an ecologically just project. Altogether, our decentralized power stations supply approximately 3,140 households with renewable energy, thereby avoiding 8,280 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Due to our local contacts and our lean organization, we work highly efficiently with a low input of resources. When starting a new project, environmental integrity is ensured – e.g. by avifaunistical (bird and mammal) impact assessment studies and by ecological compensatory measures. Additionally, a renewable energy plant can be fully dismantled at the end of its life cycle, in contrast to coal fired or nuclear power plants.

Gender Impact: Our cooperative enables women to participate in technical and strategic fields which are – even in the alternative sector – usually led by men. All bodies of our cooperative are occupied by women who are responsible for the technical management, the commercial management and the finances of our power plants. In our general assembly, all 300 associates decide on the further development of the cooperative and the usage of the profit democratically. With a return on our investment, the work does not add additional burden to our board members‘ workload, since they are no longer working voluntarily. Being associates, women use the opportunity to make their own investments; and through them they influence the energy market. We find our own women-specific solutions to climate change and bring in our creativity and multi-dimensional skills.

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Maasai stoves transforming lives

Description of the project: The Maasai Stoves and Solar Project sets a benchmark in stove projects: it transforms lives. The stoves are designed by women themselves, who love them! A spot check after one year showed 100% of stoves in use. Each stove annually relieves three tonnes of wood from a woman’s back and releases 12 hours of labour a week: time freed-up for farming and children‘s care and education. The stoves produce 90% less smoke than traditional 3 stone fires. Fireboxes are made locally and the stoves are installed by teams of trained women. No other organizations are working with the Maasai on sustainable energy projects; the need is great and the solutions offered are widely appreciated.

Climate Impact: Each stove saves 3.6 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions/year. This has been substantiated and validated through tests by an UN-Designated operational entity. The amount of wood used is reduced annually from five to three tonnes per household. This has a great impact locally too; in Tanzania 96 % of biomass is non-renewable.

Gender Impact: The Project involves women throughout the community, and begins by using their stove design. The Project also employs women to install the stoves, while training and empowering them. One project participant said “We used to think only men could do this work; now we know we can do anything!“ Inspired by their roles in the Project, they have established a women‘s organization, stating, “We love the work and the feelings of new power and freedom. We have formed this group so that we can determine and achieve our own goals.“ The women have more time, more energy and healthier lives. The stoves and chimneys bring clean homes. “If there is an average of five children in a household, and if all causes of severe respiratory disease were removed in fifty households, then one child’s life would be saved.” Installing solar systems further helps everyone, particularly with education. Where micro-grids are installed in bomas (homesteads), the homes run a refrigerator and a laptop, which the woman of the house is trained to use and with which she can teach her children.

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Training young women in the principles and installation of solar photovoltaic DC refrigeration

Description of the project: Young women participated in the assembly, delivery and installation of solar powered lights, refrigerators and freezers on two atolls in the Marshall Islands. The young women independently learned how to master technical elements, assembly methods, and packing and delivery of the components across oceanic distances to remote islands. They also gained competency in the off-loading, re-assembly and installation of mechanical and electrical components.

Climate Impact: The project has both mitigation and adaptation impacts. It supports mitigation by substituting renewable energy generation for the very costly and largely unavailable fuel used to power diesel generators. It supports adaptation by enhancing food security on very remote islands impacted by adverse effects of climate change including frequent drought, salt water inundation from King (high) Tides and increased storm surges. It also alleviates the hardship of remote existence and the challenges to traditional fishing caused by lack of access to fuel and increased storm surges.

Gender Impact: Young rural high school educated women were trained in the skills of electrical and mechanical assembly and the commissioning of solar PV systems. This training for women is uncommon as, especially in the Pacific Islands, it is a male dominated area of work. These young women also supervised the installation of solar photovoltaic refrigerators in their own homes. As women are the primary users of home refrigeration, women in the community were involved at each household. This is the first such activity in the Pacific Islands.

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