Displaced people face many challenges earning a living – from a lack of tools, skills and savings to legal obstacles. But in South East Nigeria, Care for Social Welfare International is using clean energy to help woman farmers grow new opportunities.
The NGO is powering up water pumping to irrigate local fields, with a project that also enables phone charging and other essential services. Energy access sits alongside training and support for local women to form producer co-operatives.
Care for Social Welfare International works with people displaced from disputed lands, who are now living in Nigeria’s Cross River State. They have been given land to farm by the government, but earning a living from this land, at the Bakassy Returnees Camp, is tough. The community lacks schools and clinics, roads and formal banking.
They have been given land to farm by the government, but earning a living from this land, at the Bakassy Returnees Camp, is tough. The community lacks schools and clinics, roads and formal banking.
Setting out to boost farming and nutrition in the community, the NGO realised that shortages of power and clean water were also major issues. People relied on a polluted local river for water, which often brought disease.
So Care for Social Welfare International broadened their work to renovate a disused water tank in the community – and to fill it from a new borehole, powered by solar panels and, when needed, a diesel generator. Previously, the community’s only source of fuel was expensive diesel bought from a depot more than 20km away, and trees chopped down for firewood.
Water pumping has allowed farmers to plant year-round, and the organisation is also fixing broken pipes to allow drip irrigation – an efficient, sustainable farming technique – at the site. As well as bringing clean water to the community, the solar panels power phone charging and a handful of street lights.
Women work together to seize opportunities
Improved access to water is just one aspect of the support offered by Care for Social Welfare International. It has also helped local woman form co-operatives to farm the land and sell what they grow at the local market. Working together boosts productivity and enables saving, with some profits reinvested in seedlings and equipment.
Through the co-operatives, the women have also had training in farming techniques, farm management and finance issues.
Farmer and co-operative member Peace Mfon explains: “We work together to create community gardens, providing nutritious food for our families and generating income through the sale of surplus produce. The renewable energy has not only improved our living conditions but has also opened up new avenues for economic empowerment.”
She adds that her and her family have gained confidence and a renewed sense of purpose thanks to the NGO’s work.
1 November 2023
Ashden Award for Integrated Energy Africa
25 October 2023
Ashden Award for Natural Climate Solutions
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