By Eric Ojo, Abuja
Ahead of its plan to provide solar lights at the Ukpiam Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camp in Daudu, Benue State, the Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation (GIFSEP), with the support from Resilient 40 has trained 100 persons on the installation and maintenance of solar systems.
The project which is being implemented under the Solar for IDP Camps initiative, a brainchild of GIFSEP, is aimed at powering all IDPs Camps in Nigeria with Solar and also train certain categories of persons in the camps to become Solar technicians and environmental champions.
GIFSEP is a non-profit organization founded on the ideals of environment education, climate change adaptation and mitigation, renewable energy and sustainable development. Its mission is to mobilize communities to build resilience to a changing climate, to conserve and protect the environment.
Similarly, Resilient 40 is a network of youth climate and social activists that provides a formal platform for actively guiding and directing the voices and work of young people on climate change across Africa. Its vision is to promote innovation, ideas, knowledge-sharing, collaboration and accountability and in response to the current climate crisis.
Established in March 2019, the network whose membership cut across 29 African countries, is committed to building climate resilience in Africa and finding solutions to the complex problems facing the continent in this regard.
Mr. David Michael who is a member of Resilient 40 and the Executive Director of GIFSEP, said there is a clear gap of energy poverty within the different IDP camps across Nigeria.
According to him, current statistics indicate that nearly all the camps have no electricity, the only available energy source options for households in the camps are often limited to burning biomass and kerosene lanterns which produce harmful gases exposing the IDPs to indoor pollution making the already bad situation they are in worse.
“It is against this background that this initiative came to life to light up the camps with a clean energy source using solar addressing the Sustainable Development Goal 7 which is proving clean and affordable energy for all and leaving no one behind.
“We train the IDPs to become Climate and Environmental Champions so that when they return to their communities after they can become agents of change because studies have shown that climate change is fuelling communal crises in Nigeria leading to more camps for displaced people”, Michael said.
Michael noted that this is the second camp they will be proving with solar lights in Nigeria, adding that beneficiaries were selected based on criteria which include; the most vulnerable people, women, widows, households with students among others.
He added that the outcome of the project will include reducing cases of respiratory illness especially among children arising from indoor pollution from the burning of dangerous fumes, reducing incidences of fire outbreak as a result of using candles and kerosene lanterns as well as to increase the productivity of small scale business owners as they are now able to work into the night.
He further explained that the project will also improve the academic performance of children living in the camps as a result of availability of solar powered light. This, according to him, will enable the students to read at night, adding that it will equally improve livelihood from savings in buying candles sticks and kerosene from households, as well as create employment by training and building the capacity of people to acquire skills in Solar Power installation and entrepreneurship.
The GIFSEP boss called on both the Federal and State Governments, development partners and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and individuals to adopt an IDP camp and provide clean energy, adding that they can donate or buy solar kits for onward distribution to the IDPs.
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