By Cherno Omar Bobb
Mbolo Association, a non-profit organisation based in Tujereng, Kombo South, which strongly advocates for alleviating poverty whilst protecting the environment and promoting gender equality on Friday concluded a three-day high level stakeholders’ workshop on the Solar Multifunctional Platform (SMFP).
The project: “Promoting small– scale agricultural communities’ resilience in the Central River Region by enhanced agro-processing products using solar technology through empowering women” is sponsored by the European Union to enhance women’s livelihoods by strengthening their productive capacities and abilities through training in entrepreneurship whilst empowering their professional activities with renewable energy.
The workshop held at Fandema Women Development Center in Tujereng was aimed at critically looking at lessons learnt, scaling-up and the way forward of the Solar Multifunctional Platform (SMFP).
Speaking at the launching ceremony, Silvia Llopart Gracia, Project Manager said the project seeks to alleviate poverty for communities in Central River Region through access to solar energy but also bring about gender equality.
She added that the project started in Tujereng and was later extended to Mamuda. She noted that they further extended the project to North Bank and Central River Regions.
Gracia highlighted that they believe the SMFP will bring another paradigm for poverty alleviation in The Gambia, saying: “we want to ensure people in rural communities have decent lives.”
Sheriff Abass Sanyang, Governor of the Central River Region said the project can be very helpful economically to beneficiary communities as it seeks to improve livelihood.
Sanyang added that the government needs to emulate the model which can also improve the health status of communities.
Momodou Ebou Touray, Project Consultant said renewable energy is now central for any development initiative globally and as such he described the project as very good.
Mr Touray noted that the use of solar technology by Mbolo to transform lives in remote communities in the Gambia is commendable.
Omar Touray, deputy Mayor of Banjul City Council described solar as the future hence he said stable electricity supply is a challenge in the country. He expressed their willingness to collaborate with Mbolo Association on such initiative for Crab Island.
Dr Adama Gassama-Jallow, senior energy officer at Ministry of Petroleum and Energy said Mbolo has been coming up with good initiates that will benefit the country particularly rural communities and women.
She pointed out that women are mostly affected with energy poverty, noting that the focus is now to help them participate in the energy sector.
She recalled that her ministry did a similar pilot project in five rural communities using generator sets but was quick to add that some of them are no longer working. She stated that they look forward to revitalizing them.
“We have to replicate Mbolo’s initiative in all rural communities where the grid might take long to reach,” she further said.
Amie Secka, a native of Sinchu Alagie in Niamina, Central River Region whose community benefited from the project said the project did not only benefit them but also communities around them.
According to her, prior to the project they only consumed cold water during Ramadan at high cost but they can now do so year-round at a cheaper price.
She also said that the project availed them economic benefits, use of solar applicable to preserve their garden and poultry produce, clean drinking water, use of washing machines and therefore thanked Mbolo Association for their initiative.