Akadi: the Clean Energy Enterprise Project; fighting energy poverty and climate change.

 

Currently, over 600 million people in sub Saharan Africa live without electricity.

Energy is one of the most essential elements for sustaining people’s livelihoods. At its most basic level, energy provides, heat, warmth and light. It provides cooked meals, boiled water (to help prevent waterborne diseases) and safety.

Over one million households in Togo are completely without power.

In the rural communities that Deki supports, eight out of ten households live without access to energy. This lack of access to clean, sustainable energy keeps people locked into poverty and affects all areas of their lives, including the health, education and incomes of the rural communities we support, impacting women and children in particular, who are the most vulnerable to illness and premature death.

Households without access to power resort to burning biomass fuels; firewood, charcoal, dung, crop residue – an option that is economically inefficient and environmentally challenging.  These energy sources often fail to burn effectively, leading to the emission of harmful household air pollutants (HAP) such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. Exposure to indoor air pollution from solid fuels has been linked to many diseases, in particular pneumonia among children and chronic respiratory diseases among adults, one of the four main causes of death in Togo.

According to WHO, in 2016, there were over 8,000 premature deaths in Togo alone, attributable to ambient and household air pollution exposure and yet still 93% of the population use biomass fuels, like wood and charcoal, for cooking.

 

In 2017, only 40% of the Togolese population had access to electricity, with rural areas as low as 8%.

Women and children are most at risk from illness and premature death, as they spend anything upwards of 5 hours a day within the home inhaling the smoke and fumes from cooking over the open fires.

 As the primary users of cookstoves, women and girls are often solely responsible for collecting fuel; these tasks take them away from their education and income-generating activities. Often, when collecting fuel, women or girls will be traveling alone and on foot, which puts them in increased danger of assault and gender-based violence.

When the sun goes down, homes and communities are plunged into darkness, families turn to lighting their homes with dirty and potentially dangerous kerosene lamps.

The cost of running one of these lamps is up to 4 times as much as electricity and comes with the added risks of respiratory infections, childhood burns and house fires.

With little, to no lighting available, families struggle to continue working longer hours, therefore reducing their income potential, and children have less time to do their schoolwork which has an adverse effect on their education.

The cost of energy causes a heavy economic burden to low-income households, but with no other source of clean, sustainable fuel available to them, families are forced to use these sources of energy, culminating in expensive and unhealthy living environments, and spending more than 20% of their household income on energy.

The families and communities we work with are trapped in this cycle of energy poverty.

Our goal in 2021 is to understand the requirements for efficient, usable cook stoves and supply over 1,200 solar lamps to the rural communities with whom we already work, such as our Women’s Empowerment Collectives and the Farming Cooperatives, before being rolled out to other communities.

 We will be giving families credit, which will enable them to purchase solar lights and energy efficient cookstoves. The cookstoves are designed to burn biomass fuel more efficiently and therefore reducing the fuel used in cooking and reducing harmful emissions by up to 70%

Deki entrepreneurs will have the option to purchase one small lamp that will provide light after dark and one larger lamp that charges more quickly and allows devices such as mobile phones to be charged.

 The wholesale cost of supplying a family with two solar lamps and an energy efficient stove is approximately £50, and with the savings made from lower fuel costs, families will be able to pay back the cost of the stove and solar lights in only a few months. Once repaid the capital will be re-invested to purchase more stock and support more and more families. This revolving credit scheme will allow us to ensure all Deki entrepreneurs have access to affordable lighting and cooking fuel; improving health and economic stability, whilst reducing carbon emissions.

During the first phase of the project, we will be employing a full-time salesperson who will be responsible for training Deki communities on the benefits of using the new energy efficient cookstoves and lamps.

To allow us to grow the project into more villages, we aim to train local community members to become re-sellers and therefore giving Deki entrepreneurs the opportunity to become part of a new social enterprise business.

The benefits of this project are far reaching; economically, environmentally and socially.

Economically; Spending less on lighting and cooking will make a huge difference to household expenditure, with more income available to pay for children to go to school and for medical emergencies. Families will also have the opportunity to top up their income by providing solar mobile phone charging services.

 Environmentally; Through the use of clean and energy efficient cookstoves, there will be a significant reduction in harmful household air pollutants and a reduction in the volume of fuel burned, therefore reducing local deforestation.

Socially;  With less time spent searching for fuel, women and girls will have more time to spend with their family, to dedicate to learning and to generate income. With the opportunity to earn extra income, women are able to contribute to the household earnings. This will give them financial independence and the confidence to play a larger role in the household decision making, which in turn, will help them to become role models to the next generation of women.

Using the more efficient cookstoves, homes will have cleaner air to breathe and women and children will be at a lower risk of respiratory diseases and less likely to be victims of gender-based violence.

 

Help us to create a world of opportunity, not poverty