Access to energy in the Ethiopia is among the lowest in Africa, despite its great hydroelectric and solar potential. Only 0.4% of the population has access to electricity in rural areas and yet electricity is fundamental for the entire agricultural and food supply chain.
Ahmed, Hussein, Shaik and Mohammed raise crops and animals: “The work has improved. Before we had to drag buckets in the mud to get water for the animals drink. Now we have a solar energy well that is powerful and effective”. COOPI has supported the use of renewable energy in agricultural and pastoral communities in the south of the country since 2011. To date it has involved more than 70 thousand people in the Oromia and Somali regions. Manual irrigation pumps have been replaced with solar powered pumps, which have made it possible to cultivate more land and more gardens making them more productive. Today there are more farmers and new co-operatives have started, some of them women only.
Getachew watches over a solar powered well at Nurahumba: “Before there was a manual well and often it didn’t work. The new pump provides water for 2,000 people and I guard and maintain it”. Electricity can be used to refrigerate a product and conserve it for longer, so it can be worked on and processed. Solar energy also powers veterinary centres which support animal raising which is very common. Electricity allows small producers to obtain greater value from their produce, because a processed product can be sold at a higher price. That is why the demand for electricity in these parts of Ethiopia is increasing more and more.
Solar panels have also been installed in schools and outpatient clinics and many businesses have been started up thanks to access to electricity (25 including general stores, barbershops etc.). Six thousand families now use efficient stoves for cooking, which reduces timber consumption (because of deforestation) and harm to health. Electricity has not only boosted agricultural and pastoral activity, but it has also improved living conditions for the whole community.Fondazione COOPI