Beirut, 01 October 2018 (Communication and Information Unit)--In addition to water, energy, and food security challenges, most Arab rural areas face repercussions linked to unstable political situation across the region. This has prompted the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) to design a regional initiative that seeks to promote small-scale renewable energy (RE) applications in rural areas to improve the quality of life, wellbeing and self-realization of people living in marginalized societies.
To this end, government representatives and energy experts met on 25 September at ESCWA headquarters in Beirut to coordinate efforts and determine priorities, the framework and responsibilities.
The first coordination meeting saw the participation of representatives from the League of Arab States (LAS)'s energy division and the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO) - operating under the umbrella of LAS in Morocco - and from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources (MEMR) in Jordan, the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC) in Lebanon, the National Agency for Energy Conservation (ANME) in Tunisia, as well as an international expert from the International Network on Gender and Sustainable Energy (ENERGIA) and a representative from the ESCWA Centre for Women (ECW).
Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the initiative will be implemented by ESCWA and its partners in the four countries mentioned above (Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia) as a preliminary pilot phase, where actions will depend on the national context of each country.
The project aims to improve the livelihoods of rural Arab communities by promoting pro-poor investments in RE applications focusing on environmentally adequate, affordable, and region specific small-scale RE technologies.
“Small-scale projects include photo-voltaic systems that provide electricity which allows heating water and water pumping as well, for instance,” explained the Chief of the ESCWA Energy Section, Radia Sedaoui.
“This is highly beneficial to artefact small businesses in local communities. Having this automatically means improving the energy services economy through agriculture, electricity, and industry at the small local community level, avoiding the need for huge budgets,” she added.
The project is conceived to promote gender equality and social inclusion by enabling women in rural communities to efficiently take part in the decision and policymaking process when it comes to local development issues. According to Ms. Sedaoui, “one of its purposes and justifications is the data limitation in rural areas; as closely seen while preparing Arab regional reports and tracking progress towards RE, there is clearly a data limitation in rural areas, and particularly in terms of disaggregation of data by sex.”
The small-scale projects hoped to be implemented by this initiative are expected to improve education, healthcare, drinking water and decent job opportunities outside of agriculture particularly for women, through knowledge sharing with the right people in rural areas, which would ensure continuity.
“It is an ambitious project, but the idea is to start building blocks for the long-term and start by a small team, and then expand,” Ms. Sedaoui noted.
“We aim to build a project that is based on developing the know-how and not merely handing out the final product, which usually is the case with what we call marginalized communities. No one should be marginalized or left behind,” she concluded.
For more information:
Nabil Abu-Dargham, Head, ESCWA Communication and Information Unit
+961-70-993-144; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms Rania Harb +961-70-008-879; email: email@example.com
Ms Mirna Mahfouz: +961-70-872-372; email: firstname.lastname@example.org