It is now 135 days since the government of Nigeria approved 9.2 billion Naira ($49.8 million) for the purchase and distribution of 750,000 clean cookstoves and 18,000 wonderbags, and yet beneficiaries who are rural women are still waiting to get hold of the new clean energy for cooking in their various homes. In Nigeria, on the book it has always been a laudable idea, but in the real sense of it, it is not new that some of the interventions coming from government promises, like the matter at hand, do not reach communities or people it was meant for.
But wouldn’t it have been interesting looking back at what has transpired in the last five months: Such as the Ministry of Environment [MOE] not responding to a request for information on work plans for the procurement and distribution since January 2015; even when the Minister, Madam Laurentia Mallam, decided to respond to it at a national conference, she couldn’t state the accurate funds that was approved and reiterated that the distribution of the clean cook stoves will be done through wives of state governors.
Likewise, it is a fact that the National Renewable Energy Programme of the MOE, which claimed to help in making the procurement and distribution transparent had several times held stakeholders meetings (referred to as an implementation committee) with only 10 participants on deliberating on how to make the project a success, while the office seeks help from partners it had decided to shut doors to, on communications and monitoring and evaluation.
At times one would ask, if this ministry, department or agencies would want to uphold fundamentals and international policies that guides the usage of alternative energies (although the Minister promised it would bring more carbon credits to the country), or is it that they are only interested in using it to foster political campaigns or gains.
Truth be told, the clean cookstoves might be expensive for the target audience (the rural women) it was meant for, but there is an underlying question of whether if it is given out for free, as the government as stated, will it be used by the women, and how are we sure there will be proper documentation of the change in behaviour by the women it was given to. The answer is farfetched, looking at the enormous resources that will be put into this, and that is even if there is a will.
Fortunately, the will is here! Not on the part of the government, but on the part of NGOs that faulted the distribution mechanism proposed by the government. On March 5, the government released 15% of the 9.2 billion to the contractor that was meant to assemble the clean cookstoves, and it was clearly stated that distribution mechanism have been reversed from using state governors wives to using local women – led NGOs and religious institutions.
From all indications, stakeholders were not consulted widely during project planning; and approval of the funds was done without due diligence. If the clean cookstoves were all to be imported into the country (as stated in the project memo), it thus defeat the fact that the government wants to encourage local manufacturing of clean cookstoves.
On the Long term implications of initiating incautious projects like this, the gains of alternative energy evangelism in the country will be reversed, as the prevailing market becomes consumed by the political gamble of government on clean technologies. Nevertheless, the global clean cook stove alliance should guard up their loins, as it might not be an easy task to revive the alternative energy economies in the country, perhaps, maybe another target audience such as people living in urban centres might be encouraged.
To follow stories of the tracking of the implementation of this project, feel free to visit http://followthemoneyng.org/womencookstoves.html
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