Kenyan faith leaders should prioritise clean energy


Delegates attending a session at KICC on September 5, 2023, during the Africa Climate Summit. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NMG

As the government looks to deliver ambitious climate plans and calls for greater international climate funding grow louder, faith organisations are essential partners in creating change.

The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya is working with the government to champion the growing of 15 billion trees.

The Green Anglican Movement is working across the country on growing environmental protection as part of increasing community resilience to climate change, while efforts in the Catholic Church include the growing Laudato Si Movement.

Stewardship of the earth is a motivator for people all faiths. But so is the need to reduce poverty and create a better life for all.

And the two come together in the mission of widening access to clean, affordable energy – particularly for people in off-grid communities.

Sustainable energy will put Kenya on the path to a zero-carbon future, but can also raise incomes, boost health and deliver other social benefits.

Think about solar-powered cold storage for crops grown by farmers in remote villages. Boosting food production improves nutrition, and earnings too.

But despite rapid progress in recent years, a quarter of Kenyans still go without access to electricity.

Kenya’s national climate plans include efforts to widen energy access, and the issue will feature at two events of global importance taking place in Nairobi this September – Africa Climate Week and the Africa Climate Summit.

Businesses, campaigners and the community themselves are already asking for funding and policies to drive change. More faith leaders should join this call.

Trailblazing faith-based organisations are already showing what can be achieved in communities at greatest risk from climate change.

For example, Anglican Development Services Eastern and the County Government of Makueni have brought better irrigation and water access to more than 2,000 households, with solar-powered pumping from a new reservoir.

The community used to rely on shallow wells along the rivers, which were salty and dried up outside of rainy seasons.

A reliance on rain to feed crops created food shortages, and conflicts over water were common. The reservoir – created by building a new sand dam – has allowed people to launch or strengthen businesses, enjoy better sanitation and create kitchen gardens as a reliable source of food.

Faith leaders are already supporting or delivering thousands of projects, big and small, to protect the environment and address poverty.

We urge them to support Power Up and put clean energy at the heart of these plans. Action might include raising awareness of the benefits of clean energy, or partnering with social enterprises and other organisations on clean energy projects.

It’s time for faith leaders to unite behind the moral argument for wider energy access – that it is essential to protecting our planet and ensuring hope and dignity for all those who live on it.

Elizabeth Ooro is the Head of Sales and Marketing at Mwangaza Light.

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