How are women keeping their community’s lights on?

POSTED March 22, 2019

How are women keeping their community’s lights on?

A CCFC pilot project in Burkina Faso is fostering female powerhouses

By Christelle Kalhoule, country director, Burkina Faso

Solar Power Ghana B

I love to meet strong female leaders like Adama. In this case, I’m inspired by this mother-of-four’s dedication to helping her community access solar energy.

It’s a big deal in her town, especially since just 18.8 percent of the country has electricity — with an estimated 59.8 percent in urban areas and a mere three percent in rural areas, according to state statistics.

And, although Burkina Faso is one of the warmest countries in the world — bathed with sun almost all year — renewable energy sources like the sun account for only 6.4 percent of total production, with fuel accounting for more than half (62.9 percent) of energy sources, according to state statistics.

But, Wayen residents are changing their story, and women are at the centre of that initiative.

Adama is one of them.

As she plies her craft with a colleague in their workshop, she explains how easy it is to maintain the solar network in her community. And, I’m inspired as she talks with pride about a job that allows her to work, despite not having an education.

Solar Power Ghana

At Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC), we’re working with women, like Adama — who are settled in their life and less likely to leave their community — to be trained to install and oversee the maintenance of small solar-energy units in their community.

The project involves three parts — providing solar-power equipment to the community; training women to maintain the equipment; and helping families pay to access power to light one to three light bulbs in their homes.

That may not seem like much, but it’s already making a big difference. It means children can do homework once the sun sets; families can spend quality time together in the evening; and less money is needed to power flashlights.

This is a significant change for most households in rural Burkina. One woman I met during my visit explained it best: “[It] brought us more than simple light. It brought life. With this, we feel we are part of the world now.”

Today, more than 30 households and nearly 200 people in Wayen have solar power — that’s more than 20 houses than originally planned.

I’m looking forward to seeing this initiative duplicated in more rural households and more villages across the country. Thanks to our technical partnership with Barefoot College for making this possible along with our other supporters for lighting up the homes and hearts of so many.

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