Head of Energy and Environment at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sierra Leone has said that less than 1% of the rural population in the country has access to electricity, while approximately 90% of the population primarily depends on wood-fuel for cooking.
Ms. Sakia Marijnissen was speaking at a validation workshop for the Global Environment Facility project on Energy Efficient Production and Utilization of Charcoal through Innovative Technologies and Private Sector Involvement, jointly organized by the Ministry of Energy and the UNDP.
The UNDP expert said that the rapid deforestation due to indiscriminate felling of trees has severe affect the environment and the quality of life, especially of the poor.
“Lack of access to energy particularly affects women as they typically carry the burden of collecting firewood or obtaining charcoal for cooking,” she noted. The lack of alternatives to traditional fuel, and resulting limitations for production end-uses reduce the effectiveness of social economic activities as well as the efficiency of economic production for households.
She pledged UNDP’s support to Sierra Leone’s efforts to attain sustainable development goals and increased access to energy for its citizens, including spearheading Access to Energy initiative, as well as the launch of the Sierra Leone Energy Policy and Strategic Plan.
The Energy Efficient Production and Utilization of Charcoal through Innovative Technologies and Private Involvement project, she said, would complement the energy strategic plan through the creation of an enabling environment for the production and use of sustainable energy efficient charcoal production skills and improved cooking stoves, promotion of large scale deployment of technologies and the facilitation of subsequent national transformational diffusion of technologies by setting up sustainable financial mechanism and tools for investment.
“The implementation of the project is expected to contribute to the reduction of deforestation and boost the cooking energy sector,” she asserted. Key to the success of the overall aims of the project is ensuring that these interventions are consistent with national action programmes that focus on effective management of Sierra Leone’s forests, as well as the provision of energy to all, especially women.
Deputy Minister of Energy, Martin Bash-Kamara commended UNDP for their support in the implementation of the project, noting that preservation of our forests for sustainable energy was the utmost goal of the ministry.
He said the ministry would embark on policy formulation to ensure an effective management and protection of forest reserves.