Women in Energy – Rosemary Nakasanga is Changing the Face of Energy Access in Central Uganda

Submitted by Marvin Tumusiime

Rosemary Nakasanga is the founder and director of The Women Support Initiative (TWOSI), based in Lwengo district (central Uganda). Like most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Uganda grapples with the challenge of electricity access – 85% of Ugandans lack access to electricity and 98% of the population lacks access to modern facilities for cooking.

Rosemary (second from right) at ENVenture’s boot camp

Rosemary’s career as a social worker began at the Medical Missionaries of Mary, a religious institute that provides community-based healthcare. One of the programs ran by the institute was building mud stoves and sensitizing community members on the hazards that come with using firewood as a source of fuel. Rosemary enjoyed community outreach so much that she took a step further and set up TWOSI in her hometown of Michunda. In Michunda, 56% of the local population lives without electricity and the main source of energy for lighting is kerosene lamps. “Growing up, we used kerosene as a lighting source and the smoke was a constant menace in our home. It is a cheap alternative, and we were unaware of the dangers that it poses,” recalls Rosemary.

The fumes produced by firewood often takes a toll on the health of the community members – especially women – who are often the primary household energy managers. Now that Rose understands what the community is up against, TWOSI also constructs mud stoves for these elderly women who still use the three-stone method of cooking. She encourages them to use alternative sources of cooking such as fuel briquettes.  Giving these women access to energy, through renewable energy, means preserving their human capital and consequently improving the quality of their lives. Rose contends that spreading awareness on the benefits of energy efficiency is key to promoting behavior change.

Currently, TWOSI is sustained through the sale of quality solar lanterns to community members. “The community knows us for dealing in solar lanterns and they trust in the quality that we provide,” adds Rosemary. Rosemary’s future plan for TWOSI is to scale her energy business and serve more community members with quality solar products. This is in line with the “Light Lwengo” initiative unveiled by the Ugandan government to shift the district from poor to middle-income status by 2030. The extra income will be channeled to TWOSI’s advocacy and counseling efforts for girls and women affected by HIV/AIDS.

Courtesy of ENVenture, TWOSI is also part of a group of over 80 Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) that have formed an exchange platform to share knowledge, best practices, and foster collaboration. Rosemary has also participated in ENVenture’s boot camp which provides a platform for new CBOs to interact with manufacturers of their products and equips them with the necessary skills to run successful energy enterprises.

Rosemary (extreme left) with community members

Rose believes that small changes can make a big difference, “I encourage other CBOs to incorporate energy programs or at the very least environmental interventions. Start by planting trees in your communities and sensitizing people on the benefits that come with it such as combating the effects of climate change.”

ENVenture is a non-governmental organization based in Uganda that empowers rural cooperatives to set up their own clean energy distribution businesses in the last mile by partnering with Community-Based Organisations (CBOs). ENVenture seeks to address is three challenges: One, over 85% of Uganda’s population lacks access to energy, secondly, last-mile distribution for clean energy at the household level remains a challenge, and thirdly there is no support for locally-based enterprises in the last mile. To address these challenges, they have a tailored toolkit that comprises of a clean energy loan, business mentors, capacity building, and mobile technology to the CBOs that they support.

You can read more about their work on www.enventureenterprises.org

ACCESS at the SEforALL Charrettes in Amsterdam

ACCESS participated in the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) Charrettes in Amsterdam, Netherlands, from 18 – 20 June, 2019. The Charretes were convened to challenge the status quo and generate disruptive ideas and solutions to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7). According to the The Energy Progress Report 2019, 840 million people around the world still do not have access to electricity and 2.9 billion lack clean cooking solutions.

Using the design-thinking approach, participants were prompted to think out-of-the-box, challenge assumptions and come up with innovative solutions to accelerate achievement of SDG7. You can read a recap of the Charrettes here.

The ACCESS coalition also presented on the People Centered Accelerator (PCA) ‘Last Mile’ work stream, during the meeting held on 20th June 2019. Starting with Kenya, the ACCESS Coalition is partnering with Oxfam, World Resources Institute (WRI), Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), and Practical Action on a series of events aimed at advancing inclusive and integrated approaches to energy planning through advocacy by Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Multi-Stakeholder Dialogues.

The events in Kenya will serve as the pilot project and a second phase will be planned for Ghana and Zambia. These events will culminate into the SEforALL Forum to be held in Kigali from 26 – 28 May 2020. We will keep you updated in subsequent posts.

Exchange visit in Ghana on collaborative advocacy for sustainable energy solutions

By Sanou Dieudonné, Program Officer at OCADES Caritas Dédougou, Burkina Faso and member of the expert group of CNPDER BF

As partners of the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP), I had the opportunity to participate in the V4CP exchange visit in Ghana, in November 2018. This learning visit provided a unique opportunity to share experiences from the different V4CP countries (Ghana, Kenya, Honduras and Burkina Faso), and to learn what sector players in Ghana are doing, how they are doing it, and the successes recorded. Continue reading “Exchange visit in Ghana on collaborative advocacy for sustainable energy solutions”