By UNDP Eritrea,
EVERYONE broke into song and dance as soon as they saw the cargo truck around the corner. The drivers honked their cars in response, while cows mooed and goats and sheep bleated in unison. It was a dream come true for many villagers as they received solar equipment to power their homes. Qnafna has a population of about 2,000 people living in 350 households that are off the grid since they are located 22kms away from the nearest power line.
This month, most of these homes will have power for the first time. The area is dominated by dry and sunny climate and the community members are looking forward to using clean energy for lighting, cooking and charging their electric gargets. Consequently, rural households can communicate and disseminate important information on health, education and agriculture.
Since Eritrea enjoys sunny weather most of the year, solar energy is a good alternative for lighting rural households. This inspired the Qnafna development committee to partner with UNDP- GEF Small Grants Programme, the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the local administration in providing solar photovoltaic panels to communities.
One of the elders, Keshi Tsegay Gezehey said “I feel so happy and I cannot fully express my gratitude because we have been waiting for three years to have solar energy in our homes. With the support of our partners, I have been able to see this day at the age of 87.” For 85 years old Adey Asli Berhane, solar energy will change the lives of women. “We have been using cow dung as fuel since it was the most affordable and accessible in our neighbourhood. We were suffering from the smoke and it affected our health. Use of solar energy will improve the quality of our lives.”
Demonstration of low carbon solar home systems and afforestation in Qnafna is one of UNDP-GEF small grants programme’s phase 5 projects in Eritrea. The target area of the intervention is Qnafna, A’samari and Endabashigundo villages in Mai-Ayni sub-region, Debub region. Debub is one of the 8 administrative regions of Eritrea. Estimated budget for the project is USD 324,548.