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RUWES, UNDP launch clean energy scheme for rural women 



Chairman, Rural Women Energy Security (RUWES) Advisory Board and former Minster of Environment, Sir John Odey (left); RUWES National Coordinator, Mrs. Bahijjahtu Abubakar, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, Dr. Daouda Toure and Director, Enterprises, Development & Promotions, Mr Luka Jonathan Mangset, representing Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Development during the maiden edition of RUWES Capacity Enhancement Workshop in Abuja, recently

FRESH building blocks were again laid recently in Abuja, unto Nigeria alternative energy industry, when operatives, the nation’s development partner – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and officials from the Federal Ministry of Environment (FMENV) unveiled new strategies to assist rural women access clean energy technologies and upscale their livelihood opportunities.

The scheme comes under the Rural Women Energy Security (RUWES), a project of the Renewable Energy Programme (REP), headed by Mrs. Bahijjahtu Abubakar, an engineer, which is tasked with evolving people centered responses to climate change mitigation.

To date, under RUWES, about two million women from 36 States and Abuja have been trained on wealth creation and using green energy alternatives.

The RUWES Initiative aims to eradicate energy poverty among rural women and ensure that women are more energy efficient as well as less dependent on fossil fuels for cooking, heating and lighting using green energy alternatives. 

At the four – day maiden edition of RUWES Capacity Enhancement Workshop targeted at member organizations, internally displaced women and girls, Chairman, RUWES Advisory Board and former Minster of Environment, Sir John Odey, said the initiative aims to enlightening and providing rural women’s with access to clean energy solutions and empowering them to drive the demand for green energy.

The programme is a very important and laudable step in educating and proving clean, accessible energy solutions to peri-urban and rural people while developing sustainably towards a climate resilient and low carbon economy in the country.

However, this cannot be achieved in isolation; there is need for collective efforts by all stakeholders in the clean energy space to scale up these efforts,” he said.     “Adequate sensitization programme by the media is necessary to address the initial skepticism that could arise from the introduction of these products, hence, educating women and the rural people regarding the health risks of people regarding the health risks of smoke inhalation and the gains of adopting cleaner energy technologies cannot be overemphasized.”

Odey enjoined the business community to use part of their funds earmarked for corporate social responsibility for projects to scale up access to these cleaner technology and provide funding to rural women under the RUWES initiative to start up businesses in the clean energy market space.   “We all can play a part as policy makers by creating an enabling environment for transfer of technology or as investors through building infrastructure and providing funding to further develop the market.

As community leaders, let’s us all raise this awareness.”     The UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, Dr. Daouda Toure, who delivered the keynote address, said the RUWES initiative was created to promote access to clean energy technologies and develop market and entrepreneurship skills for women and girls to eradicate energy poverty and improve their livelihoods.

Toure disclosed that UNDP works in partnership with Federal government, development partners, UN agencies, civil society and local communities to help identify local solutions to meet national development challenges through range of interventions that combine’s the organisation’s expertise and comparative advantage in the areas of governance and peace building, inclusive growth and sustainable development.

According to him, RUWES is an important partner to further equip women and girls with new skills to assemble and market solar lamps and clean stoves, thereby creating a market value chain for the products in rural communities.   “Evidence suggests that widespread deployment of clean cooking and solar lighting systems promoted under the RUWES initiative with energy and combustion efficiency and improvements over traditional dirty fuels sources could potentially help mitigate adverse effect on human health, reduce energy poverty, save time, income and environment,” he said.

Abubakar, who doubles as the RUWES National Coordinator, explained that the concept was to get the Nigerian women interested without government funds, and as a success story project that will attract independent funding. “It is an innovative initiative with a social responsibility, to ensure that every woman lives a pollution free, even her family and environment.” This is not supposed to be a profit-making venture; the women get it for almost free.

The RUWES derives from a need to save lives, save the earth and improve the economy. The RUWES is targeted towards improving the value chain of the under-served rural woman who are usually off grid, energy poor and has the highest incidence of health related issues from harmful energy practices,” she said.

RUWES Administrative Coordinator, Mrs. Halima Kolo Mohammed, explained that the workshop was staged to serve as an avenue to further strengthen the RUWES Network as a ‘Self-Help Forum’ where women and key stakeholders come together to discuss experiences, overcome challenges and grow.

The RUWES Initiative aims to eradicate energy poverty among rural women and ensure that women are more energy efficient and less dependent on fossil fuels for cooking, heating and lighting using green energy alternatives.

In the long term, the use of clean energy will improve health; drastically reduce deforestation and other negative environmental outcomes as a result of indiscriminate felling of trees for use as fuels,” Mohammed added.

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