Solar Energy for Women’s Empowerment in Burundi

By August 1, 2019 August 6th, 2019 Solution


In Burundi, there is an excessive use of firewood for fuel and low electrification rate (5%, compared to average of 16% across Africa, 41% average in other low-income countries). This limits economic capacity and impedes on children’s access to education. The burden of wood gathering exacerbates inequalities, including an increased safety risk for women. Finally, the use of firewood for fuel is contributing to Burundi’s rapid forest degradation, which is currently at risk of complete destruction by 2024.

Towards a Solution

To address this challenge, the Government of Burundi developed the light foundation initiative which simultaneously addresses environmental degradation, economic empowerment and gender equality. The light fountain is a solar system with one or two panels and rechargeable lamps which are rented by women’s associations to the communities with a commercial fee. Income generated from the lamps will be partially used for reinvestment and business expansion.

The project will also promote the fabrication and use of improved stoves by women as an incentive to access the light fountain lamps. Contracts are signed with selected women’s associations to engage in the production of improved stoves, and members will be trained to produce and use improved stoves in their households.

Some results include:

  • Women are active economic agents in their communities through their roles in the distribution of energy and protection of the environment
  • Women, men and children have access to domestic lighting and energy for their basic needs
  • Schoolchildren improve their evening study conditions
  • Gender based violence is reduced
  • Basic social services are improved thanks to the availability of night lighting
  • The use of wood is reduced due to improved stoves promotion
  • Women save time and participate in social activities.

The Ministry of Energy supports the resource efforts, for example through the organization of a multi-stakeholder round table event, and through facilitation and coordination. The Ministry of Gender supports grassroot engagement with women, through their Community Based Development Centres (CDFC). The CDFC, in partnership with a selected CSO, will engage with and follow up on the activities of the women’s groups. Synergies are developed with national CSOs which are in charge of the project implementation on the ground, notably the monitoring of solar platforms, women’s training in improved stoves fabrication and the monitoring of their household use.

The project includes an exploration of South-South Cooperation exchanges relevant to energy solutions. Part of the project strategy is the ongoing mobilization of funds, including stakeholder engagement, for example with Swiss Cooperation Agency and The European Union as energy solutions and women’s empowerment align with their priorities.

Countries / territories involved: Burundi

Supported by: UNDP Innovation Fund

Implementing entities: Ministry of Energy; Ministry of Gender; FVS AMADE

Project Status: Ongoing

Project Period– June 2018 to December 2019

URL to the practice:

 Contact information

Name: Aminata Ba; Pascal Mukanya

Title: Gender Advisor; Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist

Email address:;