Blanca Brew – Aug 20,2018

UNDP — “Investing in renewable energy changed our lives,” said Mohammad Ayasrha, project manager at Darb Al Safsaf Charity, a community based organisation in the village of Sakeb in Jerash, explaining how the reduction of household energy expenses has greatly contributed to redirecting large savings for local inhabitants.

Ayasrha, also known as Abu Osama, and his community have been benefitting from the Small Grants Programme (SGP) funded by UNDP Jordan and the Global Environment Facility, which supports small scale renewable energy initiatives in local communities.

For members of the Darb Al Safsaf Charity, renewable energy is only the start of many forcoming initiatives to advance the Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations in 2015.

The SGP was launched to establish a revolving fund that supports and rehabilitates the environment while enhancing livelihoods through the supply of renewable energy.

And, in fact, this investment “effectively decreased individuals’ spending on energy by JD20 to JD25 per month”, according to Abu Osama.

Through this project, the people of Sakeb have benefitted from the installation of solar systems for water heating and electricity generation in more than 377 homes, considerably reducing the households’ energy expenses.

This led to a mass re-directing of savings, Abu Osama pointed out, citing the example of Muna Abu Sete, the mother of one of the largest families in the village.

“She struggled the most when it came to delivering hot water to each member of her family. Since investing in our project, her family’s electricity consumption decreased, their overall hygiene improved and they received hot water lasting all throughout the day, even during the wintertime. It changed her life,” he rejoiced.

Although the shift to renewable energy is still slow in Jordan, according to environmental experts, it has been assessed that, globally, if people switched to energy efficient lightbulbs, the world would save $120 billion annually.

UNDP Country Director Sara Ferrer Olivella noted “to meet the Global Goals and Climate Change Paris commitments, we need bold global actions anchored in grassroot renewable energy initiatives owned and led by communities.”

For Ayasrha, “people are now more inclined to use renewable energy rather than illegal practices such as logging.”

He said this new trend has spread around the Sakeb community and is particularly notable when electricity prices peak.

Furthermore, the Darb Al Safsaf Charity also contributed to boosting women’s empowerment in the community, Ayasrha said, noting that although men substantively remain the income generators in Sakeb, women now play an equally important role when it comes to raising awareness on the benefits of renewable energy.

“Women are crucial in spreading awareness on the benefits of renewable energy,” Abu Osama stressed while referring back to Muna Abu Sete.