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GEF grant to remove barriers in the Kenyan biomass sector

The 1,000,000 USD Global Environmental Facility (GEF) grant will boost local efforts to remove barriers in the Kenyan biomass sector.
Great strides in energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable energy are soon to be realized in Kenya with the recent awarding of a grant by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) to a project developed by Eco Ltd jointly with local parties.

Funding, worth 1 000 000 USD, will be directed towards the removal of market barriers to the adoption, by both institutions and small businesses in rural and urban areas, of sustainable biomass energy practices and technologies. This will be achieved by building on the initiatives of local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private sector players through a scaling-up of existing successful business models and well-proven commercial technologies, which hitherto have been stymied by a number of barriers. These include such obstacles as lack of access to capital, economies of scale, and an absence in awareness by both policy-makers and end-users of the costs and benefits of improved stoves and managed wood-lots.

To overcome these barriers, this project will cultivate supportive policies and legal frameworks which promote the development and strengthening of sustainable biomass energy businesses (e.g., building and coordinating parliamentary support for biomass energy legislation); reinforce and expand supply chains for both products and financing (e.g., establishing, with appropriate revenue and financing structures, delivery infrastructure for seedling supply); and convince policy makers, the financial sector, suppliers and end-users of the benefits and market opportunities for improved stoves (e.g., training users in biomass energy saving techniques and forest management).

For Kenya, such a project could not be more timely. Indeed, not only has the proportion of biomass energy (wood, charcoal, and crop wastes), Kenya’s most significant energy resource, to overall energy consumption increased in the past two decades, from 74% in 1980 to 80% in 2000 , but over 95% of approximately 20,000 Kenyan institutions (schools, colleges, hospitals) rely on fuelwood as the main source of energy for cooking and hot water purposes. (1) As Evans Kituyi of the Renewable Energy Technology Assistance Programme (RETAP), the NGO project proponent, notes, ‘for Kenya, this is an opportunity for cost effective options for poverty reduction and climate change mitigation . . . As the numerous market barriers are eliminated, beneficiaries will be many - enterprises involved in stove production and marketing, commercial tree nursery owners, local council authorities, etc.’

Likewise, tangible benefits will be numerous and widespread. By 2010, 100 000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) will be avoided and 15 million tree seedlings will be planted in managed fuelwood plantations. Domestic benefits will include reduced deforestation and forest degradation, reduced indoor air pollution (and outdoor), improved respiratory and general health of cooks, reduced cooking times, less time spent gathering fuel, cleaner kitchens, protection for community forests, reduced fuel costs, and income generation for stove producers and seedling producers / farmers establishing woodlots.

Additional information:
News date: 30/03/2006

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