Let There Be Light International successfully piloted a Women’s Solar Empowerment project for 20 women in the Wakiso District of Uganda this Spring. The project prepared the women for employment in the solar sector, giving them the tools and skills to become active participants in the growing renewable energy sector.

On the first day of training, all 20 women were educated about the benefits of renewable lighting and each wrote a short paragraph about her interest in learning more about the sector. Many of the women shared their personal experiences with the dangers of kerosene including the poisoning of one child by ingesting kerosene and the mortality of another in a house fire.

‘‘One day I bought kerosene using an empty soda bottle. On my return from the shop, I left the bottle in the corner of the house and unfortunately that sad evening while I was outside doing my chores outside the house, my little baby crawled towards the kerosene bottle maybe thinking it was something good to drink. By the time I entered the house my baby was weakening and she was unconscious. I rushed her to the hospital, she was treated immediately, and luckily she was resuscitated.” Margaret Namayanja.

Ms. Ruth Kibalama also shared her experience as a Village Health Worker, ‘‘One day last year I found mourners at a community member’s house was told that a woman had died in her house due to an overnight fire from a burning candle that gutted the house. She had lit her house with a candle and left it burning as she slept.’’ Other women also shared that they had seen victims of fire accidents in their communities.

Of the original cohort of 20 women, 10 women were selected to participate in the full 14-hour training over 4 days. Hourly stipends were provided for all participants in the project which took place at KACCAD headquarters in Bulenga and in the community.

Trainers conducted sessions on Solar Education, Outreach, Programming, and Outcomes. Participant activities included learning about the health and safety issues associated with kerosene usage, becoming familiar with government energy policies, exploring appropriate technology available in local markets, and training in outreach to community members about solar technology. The participants also hung educational posters in prioritized community venues illustrating the benefits of solar over kerosene technology.

The primary goal of Women SET was to provide local women with the skills and tools to enter the growing solar energy sector as trained and empowered participants.

All 10 women completed the 14 hours of training and were given Solar Empowerment Certificates of Completion.  All of the women who completed the training are now working as independent agents for Sunny Money and/or Living Goods and are earning more than before they began the project. All hope to secure permanent positions within the next year.