Valentine’s, the day of love, is around the corner and it normally has nothing to do with clean energy. This time round, we want to assure you that it should. And we have a fully loaded fire-arm of reasons.
It is very easy to talk about love and affection and simply focus on those closest to us, or around us. That is fine, because it also satisfies the core reason for Valentines. However, it speaks volumes when you step out of this dimension to look at vulnerable communities that might have close-to-zero appreciation of Valentines day, because to them its another day to wake up and walk for over three hours to find some sticks to use for cooking a meal, it’s no longer firewood, its sticks because the land is barren from over exploitation, these last mile communities host nationals and even the people we welcomed to our country the refugees, taking an example of western Uganda cultures nobody eats before the visitors are satisfied, unfortunately the land can’t afford to support us with roses of biomass any more, the worry is shifting from use of unclean/openfire cooking using unsustainable biomass to lack of biomass.
It’s not valentine in last mile communities because the cases of gender-based violence related to energy poverty continue to increase. Women will have to ‘trek’ for long in search of firewood to make their families hunger-free which exposes them to a number of risks which include reptiles and even humans. Be assured that, if she does not find the firewood, she is at a higher risk of violence from her husband. But as these women and girls prepare these meals, they have to endure the painful choke of the smoke in their lungs and eyes, something that will surely affect their future health patterns.
According to UNHCR, 81% of Uganda’s refugees are women and children, who are at high risk of gender-based violence. This is a bitter fact!
But while these stats seem bitter, the refugee women and children are not the only ones at risk. Based on Uganda Demographic Household Survey data (UDHS), Uganda has a high rate of reported GBV4. The 2011 UDHS indicated that 60 % of women report having experienced some form of violence.
This means that the challenge of violence on women and children because of lack of access to energy for cooking as well as the challenge of unhealthy and unclean energy does not only rest on women and children in refugee settlements. This is a nationwide challenge.
And while it is easy to say that violence against women and children is something that men, women and the government of Uganda have folded-sleeves over to kick it out, more effort on reducing GBV related to emergy poverty is needed, because energy poverty poses a major threat to the health of Ugandan women and children tasked with the role of preparation of meals.
But we can change this all. You can join us and make a difference!
As you spread love and affection to your dear ones this Valentines, do not just think about the flowers, chocolates and dinner dates. Think harder about their future; their health, their lives…is that not love? Think about the need to see them enjo cooking their meals in a clean environment. Think about giving them clean energy options! That is love!
But surely, you can also step out and think about supporting those other communities that, as we mentioned earlier, need to discover the meaning of Valentines. That is more than love!
Visit our website: www.raisinggabdho.org to find out more on our clean energy options and how you can plug in on our efforts.