Developing The Capacities Of Non-Literate Rural Women To Operate Decentralized Solar Electrification Technologies For Lighting And Rural Enterprise Development In Zukpiri Siiru Mantar Gilan And Dupare And In The Northern Savanna Ecosystem Of The Upper West Region
Developing The Capacities Of Non-Literate Rural Women To Operate Decentralized Solar Electrification Technologies For Lighting And Rural Enterprise Development In Zukpiri Siiru Mantar Gilan And Dupare And In The Northern Savanna Ecosystem Of The Upper West Region

The project areas are experiencing increasing soil erosion, water scarcity, reduced agricultural productivity and decreased nutritional value of food crops. Land degradation and drought are causing severe hardship for many people who directly depend upon the natural resources for survival. Women and children, in particular, bear the greatest burden in times of drought. Women are responsible for hauling water and firewood for the household, and desertification can add hours to labour to an already fully charged workday. During food scarcity, the health of women and children are also at greater risk.

The constraints to agricultural development in these areas include erratic rainfall pattern, low soil fertility, striga weed infestation. There are inadequate irrigation facilities, theft of livestock (especially cattle), high post harvest losses, poor land tenure system (land is vested in the Landlords/Tendambas), inaccessible roads and annual wildfires. The farmers continue to migrate/shift and clear virgin/new farm lands for crop production as a result of decline in crop yield due to declining soil fertility and low or unavailable market for their traditional crops, which is also staple food. They destroy the ecology of these areas with all the attendant environmental problems.

A recent survey conducted by Green Solar Energy revealed that one of the main causes of the rural out-migration in the project areas are due to absence of electricity. Yet these communities are several kilometers away from the national electric grid. It is postulated that these communities may not have access to hydro-electric during the next decade. With increasing cost of kerosene, these rural will not be able to afford the use of lanterns for lighting. This means that more people will continue to relay on wood as the main source of energy for lighting and cooking, thereby exacerbating the deforestation rate

The high incidence of bushfires and alarming rate of tree felling for fuel-wood and charcoal production has contributed to deforestation of large tracts of land. The deforestation process has changed the water-holding capacity of the soil and the percolation needed to recharge groundwater aquifers. It also increases surface evaporation, resulting in a loss of moisture into the atmosphere. Denuded soils are more vulnerable to erosion leading to loss of arable agricultural farmlands and increased siltation. The result is wide spread poverty which underpins the actions of the local people towards the environment.



To develop and operate a decentralized solar energy technologies in rural poor communities for sustainable supply of solar energy for lighting and poverty reduction


i) To develop the capacities of rural communities to build, own and operate solar energy system using the ‘barefoot” approach of demystifying and decentralizing solar technology down to the poor rural communities

ii) To train semi-literate rural women to fabricate, install and maintain the solar lighting systems in their village.

iii) To put the fabrication, installation, repair and maintain solar electricity in five communities


• Five Rural Solar Energy Development Committees formed, trained and Empowered to build, own and operate solar energy systems in five off-grid rural communities in Upper West Region.
• Five illiterate rural women trained as Barefoot Solar Engineers’ in the Barefoot College in India and are capable of fabricating, install, repair and maintain solar energy system in rural savannah.
• 200 households in five rural communities supplied with solar electricity for lighting and electronics.
• Five Rural Electronic Workshops (REW) established for repair and maintenance of solar units and managed by the trained women solar engineers.


In the current international climate of awareness of global warming and other environmental detriment caused by imprudent energy use, the time is right to demonstrate a pilot project of solar electrifying five villages in the Upper West of Ghana and show how it is possible to have technically and financially self sufficient solar electrified villages.

Solar energy technologies have been demonstrated successfully.. There are, however, few examples where the provision of alternative energy has directly resulted in tangible and measurable improvement in the income of poor communities in any significant scale. Some of the apparent reasons for this are: (i) high initial costs of technology that is not affordable by the poor; (ii) limited number of locally relevant productive applications suitable for alternative energy; (iii) limited or no access of the poor communities to the supply markets; (iv) absence of efficient technology service providers and suitable projects in remote areas that could be bankable through financial institutions; and (v) lack of support from the central energy ministries, as their mandate is energy provision and not income generation for the poor. In view of this, it would be appropriate to develop innovative and decentralized approaches to poverty reduction through harnessing solar energy.

This pilot project would demonstrate how solar energy could be used to enhance the quality of life for low-income communities living in remote villages with no likelihood of grid electricity, and how a community-based approach could lead to the success of such programs. Sustainable human development will be achieved by building local capacities within the community to set up, operate, repair and maintain solar PV generating systems to meet local needs. Solar energy not only provides an appropriate solution for heating, cooking and lighting in rural areas, but also contributes significantly to progress in education, health, agriculture, rural industry and other income-generation activities that would result in poverty reduction. The opportunity for lighting provided by solar energy can be used to run literacy and other courses in the evening that would benefit children and adults working in the fields during the day. Solar powered pumps could provide irrigation for agricultural production and could also power a grinding mill and save thousands of litres of diesel. This is important for increasing incomes as well as food security for vulnerable families.

Solar energy programs will also promote the empowerment of women by training illiterate and semi-literate women to become barefoot engineers who could install, operate, maintain and repair solar energy systems, and by freeing them from walking long distances to collect fuel wood and reduced health hazards associated with indoor burning of firewood. The use of solar energy will also be instrumental in reducing environmental pollution and degradation by reducing the use of fuel wood, diesel and kerosene. Community based ownership and management of the solar energy systems will ensure full participation of local people in all aspects of decision making including design and implementation. In particular, disabled persons who are generally marginalized could be associated with the initiative.

Project Snapshot

Area Of Work:
Climate Change Mitigation
Grant Amount:
US$ 50,000.00
Co-Financing Cash:
US$ 92,500.00
Co-Financing in-Kind:
US$ 23,000.00
Project Number:
Not active yet
Project Characteristics and Results
Significant Participation of Indigenous Peoples
All the beneficiareis are indigenes
Policy Impact
National renewable energy policy
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Tonnes of CO2 decreased or avoided by energy efficient and renewable energy technologies or applying environmentally sustainable transport practices introduced by SGP Project 200000
Number of innovations or new technologies developed / applied 3
Number of local policies informed in climate change focal area 1
Number of national policies informed in climate change focal area 1
Number of CBOs / NGOs participated / involved in SGP project 5
Number of CBOs / NGOs formed or registered through the SGP project 1
Number of women participated / involved in SGP project 50
Number of indigenous people participated/involved in SGP project 300
Innovative financial mechanisms put in place through SGP project 2
Increase in household income by increased income or reduced costs due to SGP project 300
Number of households who have benefited* from SGP project 500
Number of individuals (gender diaggregated) who have benefited* from SGP project 500

SGP Country office contact

Dr. George Buabin Ortsin
Ms. Lois Sarpong
+233 505740909


UNDP, Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme P.O. Box 1423
Accra, Greater Accra, 233-302
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