Kenya has a population of 44 million. 43% of those people live on less than $1.25 a day and gender inequality is a huge problem – only twenty-nine percent of wage-earners are female, and women are often treated as little more than their husband’s property.
Poor communities in Kenya are often separated by vast distances from trading economies and rarely have basic infrastructure (roads, energy services, ITC services) in place. This means they are frequently isolated from markets and market systems and are typically not only poor but often lack the education and skills to successfully access markets . Climate change is, in particular, affecting the rural poor where the seasonality of rain fall has become unpredictable and the vast majority of families is reliant on subsistence farming for food and has access to only a low level of disposable income.
We aim to help some of the 46% of Kenyans live on less than $1.25 a day by targeting the most isolated and disadvantaged communities.
Our projects in Kenya aim to catalyse micro-economies through the provision of affordable renewable energy services. By pumping water and enabling crop irrigation we help to combat increasingly unreliable seasonality of rainfall. Our work to provide access to mobile phone charging, computers and the internet improves connectivity and helps to tackle the digital divide. Through providing this access to information and communication equipment we can help farmers access up to date information on agricultural technique, seeds and equipment whilst allowing them to negotiate for sales of produce to maximize return on investment.
One of the key reasons that many in Kenya live in desperate conditions is fossil fuel use, both inside and outside the nation. Global warming is drying out Kenya’s farmland, while people’s reliance on fossil fuels to run farm equipment makes them poorer and poorer as the price of diesel rockets upwards: the average price of diesel in Kenya increased by about 30% in 2014.
By setting up renewable energy systems, we help people escape the unaffordable cost of fossil fuels. And by ensuring that women have a key role in owning and running these systems, we put power in their hands. This raises their status, allowing them to demonstrate that they can exercise authority.