SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Lusaka
IN AN effort of leaving no one behind in development, efforts have been made to ensure that the most affected due to lack of development are included.
It is for this reason that the Rural Electrification Authority (REA) has partnered with the Non-Governmental Organisations Coordinating (NGOCC) by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to embrace women so that they are part of the development agenda. The MoU aims at mainstreaming gender in the implementation of rural electrification projects.
Studies have also shown that this approach can end extreme poverty in all its forms and reduce inequalities.
Explaining what the MoU will entail, REA chief executive officer Geoffrey Musonda said the partnership, which will run for three years, will promote increased electricity access and productivity among women.
Mr Musonda said domestic energy is usually managed by women and not men.
“May I take this opportunity to urge women groups in communities where these activities will be rolled out to rise to the occasion and utilise this opportunity by engaging in various economic activities,” he said.
Mr Musonda said the MoU will also facilitate the provision of electricity infrastructure in rural areas so as to provide an enabling environment for productivity and improve quality of life, especially for women-related programmes and projects.
He said the MoU will also provide grants for electricity connections to female-owned micro, small and medium enterprises in rural areas depending on the availability of resources.
On how REA will work with NGOCC, Mr Musonda said the authority will provide support to the civil society for entrepreneurship training and community sensitisation awareness programmes for rural communities with a view to encouraging women’s empowerment and participation in REA project areas depending on availability of funds.
“Another activity to be undertaken as enshrined in the MoU is to incorporate gender mainstreaming in rural electrification projects so as to enhance women’s participation in REA projects with technical assistance from NGOCC,” he said.
Mr Musonda said as part of the agreement, NGOCC will develop and undertake appropriate information on projects that the two organisations will jointly embark on.
In general, women empowerment indicates an increase in economic, social, spiritual and political strength, boosting their self-esteem, enlarging their decision-making power and allowing them better access to resources.
For NGOCC, this collaboration epitomises a partnership that focusses on advancing women’s empowerment.
NGOCC executive director Engwase Mwale said such partnerships accelerate the mandate of NGOCC in the attainment of gender equality in Zambia.
“We thank REA for the confidence that they have shown in working with NGOCC. We take this as an endorsement of our governance and management efficiencies and effectiveness in our country. We shall remain committed to delivering to the best of our ability in the promotion of gender mainstreaming in rural electrification projects,” she said.
Ms Mwale said through this partnership, both REA and NGOCC will be actualising the sustainable development goals theme of leaving no one behind.
She said this will translate into increased electricity access, increased productivity by women and improve the quality of life for women and children.
“Electricity will enhance the education capability in schools and also improve health service delivery for mainly the women and children,” she said.
Ms Mwale said the implementation of the electrification programme will first be rolled out in Western and North-Western Provinces.
“A team from NGOCC is currently in North-Western province to identify some of the women that will benefit,” she said.
She said NGOCC officials on the ground will assess to see how many are in need of the modern sources of energy that are provided by REA.
This development has cheered Martha Kyabasaku, a Lusaka resident, who frequently visits her family in Mangango area of Western Province.
Ms Kyabasaku said electricity is a catalyst for rural development.
She said when people have access to reliable and affordable power, they can build better houses and buy electrical appliances such as refrigerators, cookers, television sets, music systems and pressing irons.
She said the beneficiaries in rural areas will be able to access important information through radio, television and the internet.
“Children will be able to study at night, even during holidays, instead of relying on candle light which provides limited visibility,” Ms Kyabasaku said.
The excitement that Ms Kyabasaku shares will obviously be shared by other communities that will benefit from the partnership. For sure, lives in the rural communities will be made better.
SHIKANDA KAWANGA, Lusaka