The Challenge

Water tanks being delivered to the Neema Women's Group in Maungu, Kenya.

Water tanks being delivered to the Neema Women's Group in Maungu, Kenya.

Women bear the brunt of Africa’s infrastructure deficit. While both men and women are affected by poor infrastructure, the lack of local infrastructure—particularly power and water—creates a significant burden for women. In Kenya, the majority of people—73%—live in rural areas that lack infrastructure. Of the 44 million people living in Kenya, 75% light their homes using kerosene lamps. They are dim, expensive, create poor indoor air quality, and cause fires.

Approximately 80% of households depend on biomass fuels such as wood and charcoal for their cooking, and 39% lack access to safe water.  Women, as the primary caregivers in the home, are the ones responsible for collecting water, finding fuel wood, cooking on sub-par stoves, and working by toxic kerosene lamps. Women spend long hours each day collecting fuel wood, and as they cook with it, extreme health hazards result from premature death to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; more than 15,000 people a year die from Household Air Pollution (HAP), and approximately 81% of the population has health-related issues. Without electricity, household tasks become more laborious.

And finally, collecting water is another heavy burden for women who can spend up to 20 hours per week collecting water; this represents two full months of labor lost.

As a result, women face a double workday—50% longer than men’s—that makes them chronically time-poor. They are forced to make difficult decisions around seeking healthcare, earning an income, or attending to their and their children’s education. Despite the innovations in clean energy and water, the cost is prohibitive for the rural families; nearly 70% of all Africans cannot afford the $12 - $18 price point for a basic solar lamp. Most organizations in the clean energy and water space struggle to include communities within their supply chains, a necessary component for success within this segment.

To compound the issue, only 7.6% have access to financial services, making solar lamps, rain water tanks, and clean cook stoves out of reach for most people. Traditional micro-finance institutions are not equipped to deal with these issues or this population. They struggle in rural areas because of minimal community engagement, low trust, and high fees. Therefore, communities continue to be often left out and marginalized.

Zawadisha addresses these issues by providing in-house credit, direct delivery to villages, after-sales service, and training.