How Renewables Fight Corruption in Conflict-Affected States
This commentary was originally published in Devexon May 10, 2023.
Iman Hadi is a persuasive woman who changed Faleha Mohammad’s life. In 2019, Iman was a 36-year-old who was displaced by the fighting in Yemen and settled in Abs, a town midway between Sanaa and the Saudi Arabia border. Faleha was living with her parents in a small hut, living off a brother’s meager wages selling water. The only source of electricity was from a private generator owner who had a local monopoly and charged extortionate prices.
Iman persuaded the UN Development Program to help her establish and operate a small solar plant with an all-female crew. Once the plant was built, she encouraged Faleha to bring electricity into her house and buy a sewing machine. With a steady supply of electricity, Faleha went into the women’s clothing business. Now, Faleha’s family is building a brick house, a sign of permanence and security, and Iman leads a team of 10 women who provide cheaper and cleaner power to their community.
International donors should advance renewable technologies in conflict-affected environments to prevent the entrenchment of vested interests that profit from electricity crises. The benefits of solar energy in fragile environments are wide-ranging. As well as advancing climate goals, renewables are more resilient to conflicts, accelerate local economic development, and plant the seeds of better governance. However, donors’ window to act is short-lived.