Govt pushes for renewable energy in counties to curb indoor pollution

Tuesday December 12 2017

A motorcycle rider transports charcoal from Kilgoris to Kisii town on Thursday, August 3, 2017. The national government is seeking to have the counties include renewable energy projects in their development plans. FILE PHOTO | NMG

A motorcycle rider transports charcoal from Kilgoris to Kisii town on Thursday, August 3, 2017. The national government is seeking to have the counties include renewable energy projects in their development plans. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

By JOSEPH OPENDA
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The national government is seeking to have the counties include renewable energy projects in their development plans.

The Environment and Natural Resources and the Energy and Petroleum ministries are persuading county governments to allocate at least Sh100 million yearly for renewable energy projects in their County Integrated Development Plans.

The move also includes having the counties commit to building capacity for local communities and make them understand the need to adapt better technologies for cooking and lighting their houses.

Renewable energy sources include solar, wind, biofuels and geothermal, which have less negative environmental impact, according to Dr George Mwaniki, director for research and planning at the National Environment Trust Fund (NET Fund).

He noted that the national government has been holding discussions with the Council of Governors on how counties can include energy at the household level in their development plans for the next five years.

Indoor air pollution

The environmental expert said the move on renewable energy was driven by the findings of a research by the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (Kirdi) and World Health Organisation on the deadly impacts of indoor air pollution.

The research by Kirdi and funded by NET Fund revealed that more than 80 per cent of Kenyan communities still use three-stone cook stoves, which have been reported to have severe impact on indoor air pollution.

On the other hand, a report released by WHO indicates that Kenya is losing around 15,000 people every year because of indoor air pollution.

“We are having conversations with the council of governors and working closely with the ministry of energy and petroleum on issues around building capacity to communities on the need to adapt the new technologies,” said Dr Mwaniki.

Ignore technology

According to the environmental expert, most counties have concentrated on implementing mega energy resources including electricity and other big power producing investment while ignoring renewable technologies that are equally important.

The official was speaking in Nakuru after holding a three-day workshop with Chief Officers from 38 counties to discuss ways of promoting renewable energy in counties.

Mr Steven Nzioka, the Deputy Director for Renewable Energy in the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum said the ministry supports the initiative. He said the government was planning to roll out renewable energy technologies countrywide.

“We are happy to meet with the county officials who will be key in the plans to have the renewable energy extended to all counties,” said Mr Nzioka.