8 December 2021

Beirut time


Renewable energy, development and gender in rural areas: Tunisia

  • Mahdia, Tunisia

ESCWA's “Regional Initiative for Promoting Small-Scale Renewable Energy Applications in rural areas of the Arab region" (REGEND) aims to improve the livelihoods, economic benefits, social inclusion and gender equality of rural communities in Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia. This regional initiative, funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, addresses energy poverty, water scarcity, vulnerability to climate change and other challenges related to natural resources.

Under REGEND, ESCWA is organizing a multi-stakeholder forum on the use of small-scale renewable energy technology in entrepreneurial development and gender mainstreaming in productive sectors within rural areas in Tunisia. The objectives are to:

  • Present and reflect on REGEND’s best practices, success stories, and lessons learned and discuss effective and sustainable partnerships for future coordination and collaboration after the initiative's completion;
  • Bring together a diverse range of national stakeholders and assist them to design and implement, in a participatory manner, solutions to the issues and opportunities identified by REGEND;
  • Function as a platform for information exchange and dialogue and stimulate the institutionalization of rural entrepreneurial activities;
  • Assist in the establishment of an active network of practitioners within the productive sectors of rural areas and thus strengthen local capacities to increase the uptake of small-scale renewable energy and attract investment;
  • Develop a strategic agenda on renewable energy and rural development, devising practical projects to spread awareness on renewable energy technologies and their application in integrated sustainable development models for empowering rural women and youth.

Outcome document

Recommendations to promote small-scale renewable energy for integrated, inclusive and sustainable rural development

- Reduce the administrative procedures related to the implementation of small-scale renewable energy projects.

- Integrate the component of small-scale renewable energy into regional/rural development programmes.

- Establish a mechanism to monitor the consumption of groundwater and its sustainable use.

- Develop innovative mechanisms in partnership between the public and private sectors to promote the use of small-scale renewable energy for the benefit of rural development.

- Ease the conditions and facilitating the procedures for rural women to obtain financing to invest in the agricultural sector.

- Disseminate good practices within the framework of REGEND in the policies of empowering women in rural areas.

- Strengthen the coordination and cooperation among all stakeholders for the sake of integrated rural development.

Representatives of REGEND partners in Tunisia delivered welcoming speeches where they praised the project's achievements in Chorbane, in addition to calling on ESCWA to continue the REGEND approach by disseminating its good practices in other rural areas.

ESCWA delivered a presentation that covered the highlights of the project, which was chosen in 2021 as an SDG good practice, in addition to its appearance in the United Nations High-level Dialogue on Energy 2021 on empowering the sustainable development goals through inclusive and equitable energy transitions. The presentation also detailed field projects, capacity building activities, and productive equipment implemented and purchased in Tunisia, as well as their tangible impact on the beneficiaries' lives.

The National Agency for Energy Conservation (ANME) made a presentation on the current situation and the mechanisms established for the advancement of technologies and applications of small-scale renewable energy in Tunisia in general, and for the benefit of rural development in particular.

The session discussed the main role of the private sector in supporting the state’s efforts to promote the use of renewable energy in general, and to develop the use of small-scale renewable energy in particular, by identifying the obstacles and difficulties encountered, as well as proposing appropriate mechanisms to improve the contribution of the private sector in this field.

The session also dealt with identifying appropriate solutions to remove the barriers that hinder the expansion of the use of small- scale renewable energy in the agricultural sector in rural areas in particular.

The General Commission for Regional Development delivered a presentation on the current situation regarding the adoption of renewable energy and gender mainstreaming in regional development projects.

The session discussed methods to improve coordination and enhance communication and cooperation among various stakeholders at the central and local levels in the relevant sectors (rural development, agriculture, energy, water, women’s empowerment and gender equality) using a vertical approach (in the same sector) and a horizontal approach (intersection among sectors) towards an integrated and inclusive rural development relying on REGEND’s integrated business model. The necessity of disseminating the good practices of REGEND in the field of empowering rural women was also highlighted by presenting the example of the agricultural development complex for rural women "Al-Amal" in Chorbane.

On the side-lines of the forum, an exhibition of small-scale renewable energy technology was organized, in which seven (7) active companies from the private sector participated, most of them from the neighbouring regions of the state of Mahdia, among them the two companies that implemented REGEND’s field projects in the Chorbane region. The exhibiting companies demonstrated the relationship of small-scale renewable energy to the agricultural sector, such as water pumping systems and grid-connected electricity generation systems.

In addition and similarly, an exhibition of rural women's products was also organized, featuring the women who benefited from the equipment purchased within the framework of REGEND, where the six (6) women participants displayed their products that they produced or packaged and wrapped using REGEND’s donated equipment.

The Agency for the Promotion of Agricultural Investments delivered a presentation on the financing mechanisms it provides to promote the use of small-scale renewable energy in the agricultural sector and rural development, and to empower rural women.

The session discussed the state of solar energy in value chains in the agricultural sector and the barriers that hinder rural women's access to finance to launch or develop their own projects. The role of microfinance institutions in promoting entrepreneurship for rural women and benefiting from modern financing experiences in Chorbane was also discussed, while highlighting innovative mechanisms to expand the use of small-scale renewable energy in favour of rural development, such as the "Eco Shams" mechanism for financing solar energy systems to pump water.

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