With $8.5 million in funding from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), UNOPS is helping bring clean and renewable energy to communities across the Liptako-Gourma region in West Africa.
UNOPS Director in Senegal, Stina Ljungdell said, “Access to renewable electricity is in itself a major development achievement, but this project will also provide employment opportunities in a region where the youth so desperately need a path for establishing a decent living for themselves.”
Adviser and Responsible Programme Officer, Sida, Adam Öjdahl said, “We are pleased to launch this pioneering project that will contribute to stability, economic growth, and improved quality of life in the region. We also hope to pave the way for other financiers to join us in scaling up – enabling a second, larger phase of this innovative approach to achieve sustainable development.”
The Liptako-Gourma region in West Africa extends across the borders of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger and is home to some of the poorest communities from all three countries. The vast majority of people who live in the region have no access to electricity and it is a significant barrier to economic development, security, and progress towards gender equality.
The situation leaves residents vulnerable to violence from and recruitment into armed groups operating in the area. Women and girls are especially at risk of violence and the lack of electricity greatly increases the burden of their domestic work as well as activities to earn a livelihood.
UNOPS Senegal signed a three-year pilot project with Sida to support rural electrification, which will provide access to clean and sustainable energy for over 300,000 people. The project will be implemented in collaboration with UNDP, with the support of the Liptako-Gourma Authority. UNOPS is particularly responsible for the installation of six new mini-grids – two in each country – as well as for leading the effort to develop local capacity that will ensure that the new systems can be effectively operated and maintained in the longer term.
The project is expected to bring learning and employment opportunities to the people of the Liptako-Gourma region, especially women and youth, to help reduce poverty and improve living and working conditions. Further, jobs created may encourage people to choose an alternative path to joining armed groups as the only available way to earn a living.