Fuelling green energy in Niger

In Niger, energy poverty mainly affects women in rural areas. Photo: Andrea Egan/UNDP

Access to energy is very low in Niger, with only 2 percent of the population having access to electricity in rural areas. And these 2 percent rely mainly on traditional lighting solutions and fossil fuels (i.e, candles, batteries and diesel generators), which have negative implications for the environment.

Niger’s Rural Energy Service Access Programme (PRASE), funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the European Union, is a comprehensive and ambitious national strategy that aims to provide access to sustainable and renewable energy in all rural communities throughout the country, thus contributing to poverty reduction.

Only 2 percent of the rural population of Niger has access to electricity.

Low carbon solutions

1. In the village of Safo, health centres now have access to electricity through solar panels where they formerly used kerosene, and are now able to provide services at night. They also have solar powered hot water and cold storage for vaccines and other medications.

This health centre provides services to 10,800 people and approximately 70 patients per day. In addition, the centre provides aid to children suffering from malnutrition.

2. Solar powered irrigation systems have replaced equipment formerly operated with diesel engines in the following seven districts: Safo Oubandawaki, Safo Chadaoua, Soumarana, Tchikaji, Elmougou Liman, Safo Nassaraoua and Adraoua.

These peanut growers saw their production tripling through solar irrigation.

3. Multifunctional platforms built around a simple engine (powered by biofuel) are used as cereal mills. Five multifunctional platforms are managed by women’s cooperatives in the districts of Lilli, Dan Alliah, Maigamji, Rijial Oubandawaki and Banban Rafi.

The women say the mills have made their lives easier, as they no longer have to wake up at dawn to grind cereals.

4. Improved Lighting in schools: The primary school in Lili, a district in Maradi, has shifted from the use of Kerosene to solar panels and energy saving lamps. One classroom is also now equipped with a fan that keeps the heat at bay and allows classes to be carried out for longer hours.

“I wish neighbouring towns could benefit from the same technology.” -Mr. Garba Gado, School director
Illimi lantarkin duniya — Knowledge is the light of the world (proverb)

5. To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal on clean water and sanitation, PRASE took Niger’s significant experience in urban water distribution and rural irrigation/potable water production a step further, in terms of geographical coverage and service provision.

Access to potable water has improved thanks to solar energy.

While increasing access to modern energy services in rural areas of Niger, the project has helped reduce CO2 emissions by 34,520 tonnes so far. These results have the potential to be replicated elsewhere and scaled up to reach the 214 rural townships of Niger.

Story by Lela Fikrou and Saliou Toure/UNDP Niger, Editor Laurence Lessire/UNDP. Photos by Lela Fikrou/UNDP Niger, Andrea Egan/UNDP.