ADB, Japan Target More Clean Energy Benefits for Women in South Asia

News Release | 21 March 2011

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Government of Japan are promoting greater access to clean energy for poor rural women in South Asia.

A Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction grant of $3 million, administered by ADB, will be used to increase income and livelihood opportunities for women in three ADB-financed clean energy projects in Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It will also seek to identify pro-poor, gender-inclusive energy practices and policies, with the ultimate goal of integrating them into ADB's energy operations throughout South Asia.

"This project will support the mainstreaming of gender-related concerns and approaches in a sector which has largely untapped opportunities for promoting gender equity and for improving the lives of women," said Yongping Zhai, Director of the Energy Division in ADB's South Asia Department.

In many rural communities in South Asia, wood for fuel remains the key source of energy and women are typically the primary collectors, often walking great distances to gather increasingly depleted supplies. The time spent in collecting wood and exposure to wood smoke in kitchens seriously affect women's health and ability to earn an income. The growing number of small, off-grid clean, renewable energy systems, such as solar, offer rural women new livelihood opportunities. But there is a need to adopt policies and practices that address current gender imbalances in access to energy.

The grant will fund the training of female technicians to support solar power systems in Bhutan, help strengthen community management of rural electrification in Nepal, and improve service delivery and women's access to electricity in Eastern Province in Sri Lanka. These pilot initiatives could be replicated in other South Asian developing member countries in future. Support is also being given for a regional review of energy sector policies and for the development of a project performance and monitoring system that will be able to measure progress towards gender equality targets.

ADB's South Asia Department will be the executing agency for the project which will run for three years.