Women in the Nyanza region are taking the lead role to call for action for a sustainable future in the usage of clean energy.
Homa Bay and Migori Counties are part of the seven counties where Practical Action, a non Governmental Organization, is empowering women to ensure the environment is preserved through use of clean energy.
Millicent Odera, who hails from East Kamagambo in Migori County, is a model case in the region on how best to conserve the environment.
Odera, in the company of 60 women received training on modeling of stoves and other energy products, however only 15 women managed to finish the course.
With support from Practical Action, Odera has made strides and has emerged as the face of energy solutions in the region.
“Now we can build rocket stones for schools and hotels, incinerators and boilers,” she said.
Odera says the stoves they are constructing reduce air pollution and will shield family members from contacting pollution and health related diseases.
According to a report on Household air pollution and health by World Health Organization (WHO), 4.3 million people die annually prematurely from illness attributed to household air pollution.
Odera believes that with the widespread adoption of clean cooking stoves, the world would be a better place to live in.
She says the market for the cooking stoves is available and the production is low as she calls for more women to take up the challenge and venture into the industry.
Women are emerging not only as consumers of a new wave of innovative energy access products and services but also as leading entrepreneurs.
Sharon Atieno, gender and advocacy officer at Practical Action says they have trained 400 women under the Women in Energy Enterprises in Kenya.
Atieno says the program is to empower women to expand and adopt energy solutions around the region.
“We train them to build stoves and link them to financial support in terms of credit,” she said.
The Organization has gone a notch higher to train women on how to make briquettes to use in the new model stoves made of bricks and cement.
The briquettes, a block of compressed coal dust used as fuel, is generated by a women’s group in the Rongo area after Practical Action donated to them a machine capable of churning out more products.
Atieno says “In the past, these women were producing fewer briquettes, now we have given them a machine and are able to produce quality products”.
Caroline Akinyi, who runs the briquette machine, says the market is available for their products.
“In 2017 we were selling 200 bags but from 2020 when Practical Action came to our aid through training, we are selling tonnes of briquettes,” she said.
Akinyi says they have a membership of seven and the site has been a teaching ground for many organizations on benchmarking sessions.
Josephine Obingo, who works with women under the clean energy project, covering the counties of Nairobi, Makueni, Homa Bay and Migori says there are many unsung women heroes who have led the region towards the new green economy.
Obingo noted that they identified women who had the potential for onward training to make them all round perfect.
“We identified these women and engaged them since most of them were facing a number of challenges,” said Obingo.
The capacity building was aimed at giving them hope in what they are doing and to see it as a profit venture.
Obingo says marketing of the products was the major challenge faced by the women and after the training, access to markets was made easier.
By JOSEPH OJWANG