The World Food Program and Madagascar government have launched an innovative green energy project to help rural communities develop their economies and withstand climate shocks.
Madagascar is famous for its flora and fauna, as well as its inclement weather. The northern and central parts of the country are subject to cyclonic rains while drought conditions prevail in the south.
The World Food Program reports more than 2.2 million people in the southern regions suffer from food insecurity leading to high rates of chronic malnutrition among children under five.
To alleviate this situation, WFP and the government have launched the so-called Rapid Rural Transformation Initiative in two southern regions, Androy and Anosy. Hot and dry weather is the norm in these regions, so is the abundance of sunlight.
That, says WFP spokesman, Tomson Phiri, makes them ideal for establishing solar-powered hubs, a sustainable water source, and information and communication technology.
Speaking from the Madagascar capital, Antananarivo, Phiri says the project will provide essential services, such as energy, water, and digital platforms to communities in remote areas.
“I visited two of those villages serving upwards of 2,500 villagers in a very environmentally responsible, sustainable manner,” said Phiri. “Now, these hubs as well are providing digital classrooms for learners. I saw young people who were nurturing dreams there.”
He says the solar-powered hubs allow various partners to set up integrated community services, such as training centers for women and young people. He says he has seen communities brought together by technology.
“We have brought connectivity. We are enhancing agricultural productivity,” said Phiri. “We are going to hone peoples’ business skills, and we are giving opportunities to people, especially women and the youth, so that they can start embarking on their own enterprises.”
Phiri calls the project a game changer. For example, he notes women in villages in the south who previously were unable to consult medical practitioners, now can do so through the digital hubs.
He says the initiative is making it possible for people in remote communities to stand on their own two feet without waiting for handouts from the international community.
Source: Voice of America