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Supporting sustainable economic growth through solar power in Burkina Faso

In Burkina Faso, the Sustainable Energy and Economic Growth in the Boucle du Mouhoun Region project (Cowater International Inc., over $17 million, 2017-2023) is stimulating economic growth by focusing on improving access to renewable energy, local economic development, and governance and capacity building. The project provided 90 individual producers and 38 women’s groups with irrigation, conservation and production facilities that operate using solar energy.

Two of these women’s groups have benefited from a pilot project that provided hybrid engines running on solar energy to supplement existing diesel engines used for their agriculture activities. Thanks to the project, the village of Touruba now has 2 hybrid engines that power a grain-hulling machine and a flour mill. As a result, the women’s groups have seen both their fuel and repair costs decrease. The flour they produce is also finer and no longer smells of fuel.

“The hybridization really reduced the drudgery of the women’s work and increased their revenues. The solar-hybrid platform really makes our work easier. You just have to push a button and it starts, unlike the other platform, which needed a lot of time, and especially strength, to start it,” says Mandé Bibata, a member of the Touruba group.

Using this solar-powered system also contributes to gender equality because the women no longer need to depend on men to provide the fuel. Equipping women’s groups with solar pumping systems means that the women are more independent and, importantly, not marginalized when fuel is scarce.

The women’s groups are now developing other solar powered activities, such as producing and selling natural juices and ice, and providing telephone charging services. The cooperatives use this revenue to grant repayable loans to their members so they can engage in their own revenue-generating activities.

Mandé Bibata, a member of the Touruba group.
Credits: © Jade Production, Burkina Faso, 2023
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