Today, key stakeholders from the energy sector held a closeout meeting to share the WEEK II project insights, achievements, lessons learnt and best practices, including reports and information to ensure sustainability and scaling up the project at the Vic Hotel in Kisumu.
The meeting sponsored by the Practical Action Organization brought on board stakeholders from the Energy sector comprising County Government officers from Kisumu, Siaya and Kakamega, CSOs, Beneficiaries among other partners
The project dubbed Energy that Transforms targets people without electricity or clean cooking. It seeks to help more people harness the transformational power of clean, affordable energy and to reduce avoidable deaths caused by smoke from indoor stoves and fires.
The aim of the Women in Energy Enterprises in Kenya Phase 11 Project (WEEK II) is to improve the enabling market and policy environment for gender equality in the energy sector.
Speaking while presiding over the official opening of the meeting, the Chief Officer Energy and Industrialization Mr. Joseph Oganga who read the speech by the CECM, Trade, Energy and Industrialization, Mr. Dixson Obungu noted that the project has been a 3years journey of hard work, dedication by the project team and all stakeholders in ensuring its success.
He acknowledged that since the signing of partnership commitment at the inception of the project on 12th February 2020, he commended the county’s consistency in putting extra effort that has realized domestication and promotion of adoption of the National Gender Policy, 2019.
This move he said was to ensure policy commitment and strategies for effective mainstreaming of gender in the energy and across all sectors, such as drafting County sustainable energy policy to fast track the launch of Kisumu County Gender Mainstreaming Policy, 2022.
This has also ensured sustainable energy development and gender priorities as mainstreamed in the CIDPs, ADPs, County annual work plan as well as the budget, which has enabled lobbying for incorporation of clean energy and gender issues in the county planning frameworks.
He further stated 100million was allocated in the FY 2021/22 to support women entrepreneurs’ through the County Enterprise Fund where all entrepreneurs in the energy related value chains are encouraged to tap into to expand their businesses for sustainability after the project closure.
Concerning commitment in collaborating with Practical Action in driving the agenda of women economic empowerment through clean energy initiatives, Mr. Oganga noted that it has created a conducive environment for enabling policies that provide a framework guiding all sectors on limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
During the project period, the county has launched the Kisumu County Climate Change Policy and Act 2020, the County Energy plan is in the pipeline. However, the county is yet to establish an all-inclusive sustainable energy for all.
He appreciated Practical Action for considering Kisumu, Siaya, Kakamega, Homa Bay, Migori in the Western Region saying the project is a game –changer.
The Practical Action County Director who was represented by Madam Millicent Okello in the meeting thanked the stakeholders for walking the journey with the organization even when Covid 19 pandemic interrupted the project and now it has successfully ended.
She explained that the meeting was key in sharing the gains and challenges experienced during the project and even listening to the beneficiary voices since the outcome of the meeting would inform phase III of the project just as Phase I informed activities of Phase II. She added that it would also tell where we are coming from, what we can do and where we want to go.
Madam Millicent gave an overview of the project highlighting its objectives, interventions and the activities in the program.
The program that was initiated in April 2019, was supported by Energia International network and funded by SIDA. It focused on gender and energy, where they strategized to work with people who have no access to clean energy.
The best option was the private sector to spearhead the same course, working with women energy entrepreneurs at the community level to improve their capacity to create aces to energy, create jobs at the community through clean energy technologies such as improved stoves, briquettes, productive use of energy and solar lighting products.
She stated that the overall objective of the project was to economically empower 400 women entrepreneurs after which the four hundred are expected to reach another 800 women to create jobs in the community they work in.
In capacity building, she said the intention was to avert the narrative that women are merely beneficiaries of energy products. The training was to make them active actors in decision making in energy sector, produce and distribute products.
The program carried out in six counties: Nairobi, Kisumu, Kakamega, Homa bay, Migori and Siaya had interventions that focused on catalysing women development agenda along the energy value chains, improve enabling market environment, strengthen collaborations in the energy sector and also the voice of the donor and Practical action through development of knowledge products.
On his part, Mr. Matthew Okello from Practical Action, gave an overview of the organization and highlighted some of the programs the organization engage in.
He said the organization’s vision is a world that works better for everyone. This they achieve by helping people put into practice ideas in order to achieve their ambitions.
Some of the programs he outlined include energy that transforms, Farming that works, Cities fit for people and climate resilience,
He was pleased and thanked the Counties and the stakeholders for being part of the journey to the close of a program that has had a remarkable impact in the communities they worked with.
Sharon Atieno from practical action on her part said the project encouraged women involvement in the energy sector by creating environment that motivates more women entrepreneurs, producers, and distributors more than being users of the clean energy at the household level.
She said the empowering agenda was a collaborative approach with government and other stakeholders to enable women embrace and participate in the sector by changing how to do business in energy.
Secondly, she said the program focused on change in policy and gender by trying to create policies that are gender sensitive coming from a background where most policies are gender neutral.
Change in political good will was also point of focus in program in ensuring proper budget allocation and enabling environment and the partnership aspect that she noted is key for no organization can make it alone.
Testimonials from Project Beneficiaries
Madam Damaris Ocholla, a briquette entrepreneur from Nyahera, Kisumu West Sub County, attests that there is business in the energy sector. She is grateful to Practical Action that has helped her improve her standards of living through training her on business development skills.
Damaris who is a widow 22years down the line has managed to put up a permanent house and she is educating her children from the sales of briquettes
She affirms that her exposure through the media has increased her customer base however; she has a challenge in transporting her products to customers outside Kisumu.
Evaline Adhiambo from Siaya County is also a dealer in briquettes having been trained by Practical Action.
“Thanks to Practical Action, who taught me how to make better briquettes, I am self-employed, I don’t intend to look for employment again, and I plan to extend my business outside Siaya County. My husband who lost his Job during Covid 19 has since joined me in the business, assisting me in transportation and he has now opened a motorbike spare parts shop that brings income. I have also diversified the business not only dealing in briquettes but I now make clay pot brooders and brood chicks which I also sell “says Evaline
Mary Modasi, a beneficiary from Kakamega says, “As a woman I have been empowered by Practical Action to fend for my family, coming from a community where only men are regarded to provide for the family. I used to do ordinary jikos that use firewood and mold pots and sell, but thanks to Practical Action that introduced me to value addition. I am now able to sell better and make money. I have also learnt to make briquettes that our group use to brood chicks and sell. Besides our group has benefited from loans, equipment and smart phone from Practical Action”.
Lastly is Madam Mildred a dealer in fire-less cookers or food warmers from Kakamega says, “My experience with Practical Action is to understand my capacity and have self-esteem that I can. This has given me a lot of exposure on how to sell my products. I come from a community where people know flasks and hot pots not fire-less cookers. I have has opportunity to sell the product to many and now I have trained three women whom I have employed to do the work and I pay them. Given my occupation I am also training women groups in my area on the importance of savings both for their health and businesses”.
By: Emily Mikwa