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World Environment Day: Africa Sustainable Energy

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Published on Jun 5, 2009

n Africa, UNDP, as an implementing partner of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is getting people in remote areas onto the electrical grid by harnessing green sources of energy like hydropower and solar energy. In the Embu district of central Kenya, a high rate of rainfall combined with a large amount of runoff water from the snows of Mount Kenya made hydropower the obvious choice. Through GEFs Small Grants Programme, which is managed by UNDP, the community there has established a hydro-powered turbine. Today it provides power to hundreds of people with the potential to reach thousands more.

Namibia, meanwhile, is unable to receive all the energy it needs from its coal and hydropower plants to feed its rapidly growing tourism, fishing and mining industries. A UNDP/GEF initiative there is working with the Ministry of Mining and Energy to provide financing for people so they can install solar energy systems in both private homes and public buildings like schools and health clinics.

In both initiatives, the introduction of alternative sources of energy has cut down on the collection and use of biomass fuels, which cause an estimated 1.4 million people around the world to die from respiratory disease every year. The collection of firewood also leads to the destruction of vital forest lands.

In Embu, for example, people are collecting and burning firewood less and less. Instead, they are relying on the hydropower turbines output for all of their electricity needs, from simple things like cooking, television and house lights to the powering up of small businesses like a mobile phone charging shop.

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