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Energy role in poverty alleviation
by zanele z
Africa / US Energy Ministerial Conference & Women in Energy

Durban, South Africa •• Dec. 15, 2000 •• SolarQuest® iNet News Service •• The second last day session on women in energy ministries' conference focused at the energy role in poverty alleviation in Africa and to identify successful examples of financial intervention that have increased the availability of financial resources for women to access or supply energy services.

According to secretary general world energy council national committee Dr Abdelhamid Maghrebi, energy is a critical but often overlooked link in tackling poverty. He said energy and hunger are similar as energy is required to raise food production,preserve and cook staple foods.

Traditional fuels used with inefficient technologies impose enviromental, health and social burden that fall disproportionately on women.

"Rural energy often falls between energy authorities focused on centralised system and rural development authorities focused on agriculture. The projected growth of urban populations risks exacerbating the neglect," said. Maghrebi.

He added that the effort expended to date has not significantley altered the scale of the problem. "Local people know the local enviroment and needs best, therefore, they must be involved in priority-setting. This calls for decentralisation of rural energy planning and an attitude change of all authorities.

"Rural energy planning needs to be integral part of broader rural development and take into account social structure and the energy nexus in poverty reduction needs to be more widely understood," he concluded.

Ms Wendy Annecke in the November/December African Energy journal stated that national energy policies tend to be conservative and gender blind.

"This is because they are generally written with a focus on energy services for business and industry and international investment potential rather than for the upliftment of poor women in their countries," Annecke explained.

She said that women who participated in the first South African consultive policy process identified far-reaching solutions to their energy poverty, such as land ownership,equal rights to inherit land, laws to challenge opprresive customery laws amd women's representation on all decision making structures to solve their energy problem.

"Participation, training in technology and gender sensitivity for men and women, information dissemination and all forms of capacity building are important policy points. Energy intervention should be co-ordinated with land-use, forestry, water and other development strategies," Annecke concluded.

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