CAN Tanzania organized three workshops in December 2019 to raise awareness and inform the participants on renewable energies (RE) and the necessity of transitioning to clean and affordable energy. The workshops are part of the project “Contextualising the bottom-up approach on influencing the transition to clear and affordable energy systems in Tanzania” in partnership with HIVOS. The workshops took place in Kidomole and Makurunge, two villages of the Bagamoyo district, as well as in Bagamoyo town. The workshops were conducted in response to gaps identified during the baseline study in the Bagamoyo District. The 124 participants were representatives of women groups, local government authorities and civil society organizations.
On the first day we were in Makurunge and shared our insights. The interest of the participants was very high while we talked about the findings of the baseline study as it represented their own village. We did a survey to analyze the use and availability of renewable energy in Makurunge and Kidomole as well as the challenges and opportunities of this topic. It became apparent that for 92% of the households, renewable energy is not accessible due to the high initial costs but the community saving groups might present an opportunity for decentralized renewable energy. During the survey as well as the workshops, the limited awareness towards renewable energy was striking, 42% stated that they are unaware of the potential of RE, only solar was commonly known. In both villages 91% of the households rely on charcoal and firewood for cooking (baseline study CAN TZ). Because of that, the CAN TZ team focused on the different types of renewable energy and the advantages as well as disadvantages customized to the context of the villages.
Furthermore, on the second day in Kidomole the interest was very high and a necessity of alternatives was apparent as it becomes harder to collect firewood due to the progressive destruction of the forests. For many the collecting of firewood takes now up to three hours of their days, three times a week. “This area used to be a pad-rice farm and wet land on which I used to farm but over time it changed and got really bad, it is all dry now. For five to six years now I had to make charcoal because that is the only alternative. Now even finding wood is getting difficult. Sometimes we have to drive three, four hours with the motorbike to the forest.“, said Emmanuel Peter Ndimbo, the newly-elected sub-street secretary of Makurunge.
The 74 participants of the two workshops are all primary sufferer because of their dependence on natural resources like charcoal and firewood. In the case of a transitioning to clean energy they are also going to be the primary beneficiaries. To achieve this, two drafts for strategies on inclusive transitioning to clean and affordable energy were agreed on. Those are going to be used as a benchmark for a renewable energy agenda and action plans for the ward and village assembly meeting.They are going to ensure that the RE agenda is included into the development plans of the villages.
The communities expressed enthusiasm for transitioning and adapting but also stated, that there is a need for awareness campaigns targeting potential political leaders. Many of the village councils stated that they did not include RE into their agenda due to a lack of understanding and support from government and non-governmental stakeholders.
After the two training workshops on village level , we collected the insights to present them on the district level in Bagamoyo. The workshop was marked by active discussions, brainstorming sessions and questions. The one-day workshop was attended by local government authorities, civil society organizations, faith-based groups, media and private renewable energy stakeholders in the district. We also focused on women-based organizations and groups as well as youth (43% of the 50 participants were youth).
During the brainstorming sessions on how to possibly steer for inclusion of a RE agenda into the Bagamoyo district development plans, different challenges and opportunities came up. The poor housing structure increases the risk of a fire while connected to electricity. Right now only 21% of the households surveyed in our study were connected to the national grid therefore renewable energy poses as a great possibility for them to gain electricity and as a great alternative to the 46% of the households that are relying on lithium batteries or electrified flashlights (baseline study CAN TZ). Though the lack of awareness might state a unreadiness for changes the participants were very open-minded and curious. We presented the “Productive Use of Renewable Energy (PURE)” which defines agricultural, commercial and industrial activities, powered by renewable energy sources, which generate income (ARE, 2015). The participants were very interested in this as it can be implemented in all livelihood activities.
The participants discussed a lot and identified achievable and long-term solutions. One of them is a stand-alone RE policy and long-term strategy. On local level they want to develop a short-term action plan and set a budget for the implementation of such. CAN TZ is going to initiate and establish RE clubs in primary and secondary schools as a room for innovation and creativity concerning the sustainable usage of energy. Another outcome of this workshop is the Memorandum of the Understanding between CAN TZ and Bagamoyo DC. The participants stated that this workshop increased their awareness of the urgency of this topic and reminded them to take action. And while the compete change is hard to achieve a transitioning process has to be started. The objective of workshops like these is the presentation of options to the participants, which are more sustainable for them and the environment until the transition is successful. Shumina Rashidi, the councilor of the Bagamoyo District and a business woman, for example told us: “In the workshop I learnt that cooking with gas is very cost effective – especially because I am living in Bagamoyo town, where it is available everywhere. I am going to use gas for cooking – not only for my health, but also to protect the environment.“ If we trigger little changes in the daily life of everyone attending our workshop we achieve great change.