Uganda still faces a challenge of increased vulnerable children and youth both as natives and refugees and with the global campaign to increase adoption of renewable energy, USAID in collaboration with Uganda National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Alliance (UNREEEA) launched a program to empower vulnerable children and youth through renewable energy technologies.
Early this year in February, UNREEEA signed an MoU with USAID to deliver basic education and Orphaned and Vulnerable Children (OVC) services to children and youth in Uganda under the Integrated Child & Youth Development (ICYD) program.
This collaboration aims to foster youth skilling and community empowerment through renewable energy technologies. The ICYD program is expected to run for 2-3 years in about 40 districts across Uganda.
USAID-ICYD identified “Spokespersons” who would travel to all target districts to lead this activity. On that note, UNREEEA organized an orientation training for spokespersons on the topic “Basic Introduction to Renewable Energy”. This orientation training would equip the team with adequate knowledge to effectively communicate the purpose of the activity and engage with the project beneficiaries.
The training was carried out at a Katende Harambe Rural Urban Training Centre (KHRUTC), a demonstration site in Namugongo, Kampala, Uganda.
“UNREEEA is an apex body representing the entire renewable energy sector at a national level and therefore can tap into its enormous membership network to identify quality trainers and training programs for target groups in this activity”, Alexander K. Akena, Chairman UNREEEA mentioned in the opening remarks.
To ensure the smooth running of projects, it is ideal that project leaders take an active interest and participation in project activities, and this was evidenced by the presence of Ms. Eileen Mokaya, Chief Of Party, USAID, and Alexander Komakech Akena, Chairman UNREEEA.
The training was focused on three major technologies; solar, biogas and biomass energy as these were most applicable for this activity as compared to hydro power and wind power systems.
Eng. Benard Mbaine kicked off the orientation training with an overview of climate change, its causes, and the role of renewable energy in remedying these changes. “As a source of energy, humans heavily rely on fossil fuels and renewable energy offering an alternative energy source for lighting, heating, cooling plays a great role in combating climate change.”, he said.
He further went on to explain how solar systems/components work and pointed out the pros and cons of the technology. Pros included reliability, environmental friendliness, and ability to be installed anywhere among others whereas the cons were mainly the high cost of initial installation and counterfeit products on the market.
Eng. Abdu Kalema, an expert in biogas systems offered a quick course on the types of biogas systems (fixed dome, floating drum, and balloon) identifying the fixed dome as the longest-lasting option mainly owing to its high-pressure holding characteristics.
Biomass energy technology training was conducted by Ms. Virginia Ssemakula explaining the different techniques associated with improved cookstoves and charcoal briquettes manufacturing.
To improve community livelihoods, USAID-ICYD and UNREEEA will offer capacity building in installation and maintenance of solar and biogas systems and manufacture of improved cookstoves and charcoal briquettes. As a result, there will be an increase in not only chances of employment among youth and OVC communities but also in the uptake of renewable energy in general.