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UNDP: Good Practice Example
The Multiplatform Project: A Multidimensional Approach to Reducing Rural Poverty

Energy Access and Poverty

Energy Access and Poverty

Access to energy is critical to sustainable development and poverty reduction efforts and key to achieving the MDGs. Currently, of the three billion people living in rural areas in developing countries, nearly two billion still have neither access to nor ability to pay for modern energy carriers. Women, particularly poor women in rural areas, are disproportionately affected by limited access to affordable energy. It is most often women who must expend large amounts of time and physical effort to supply fuel for their household and productive needs.

To respond to the energy-poverty challenge, the Government of Mali, with support from UNDP and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), implemented the multifunctional platform project. The project seeks to reduce rural poverty in general and that of rural women in particular, while creating income-generating opportunities through provision of affordable energy services. The multifunctional platform has a simple diesel engine that can power a variety of tools, generate electricity for lighting and refrigeration or to pump water. Installation, management, and maintenance of the machines are community-based, with registered women's associations responsible for these activities.

Measuring Impact

Access to platform services frees up both time and energy, reducing daily time spent on chores by 2 to 6 hours. In Guinea, a study indicated that rice de-hulling machines took twenty minutes for a task for which each woman previously needed half a day. Based on the current mean use of the multifunctional platform in Mali, the domestic time that can be freed with 450 platforms amounts to over 1 million hours of tedious work. Women are able to use the freed time for income-generating activities and young girls previously burdened with labor-intensive chores are able to attend primary school. The reallocation of women's time is also made visible to the community, allowing for women to gain social as well as economic recognition for the work they do. In this way, the results from initial impact reports show the multiplatform machine contributes to increased skill development, economic empowerment, employment opportunities, food security, educational enrolment and literacy rates for women and their children.

During the initial phase of the program, 149 units were in use within Mali. Due to overwhelming demand, the project expanded and there are now approximately 2,000 villages benefiting from the platforms throughout Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Niger, Senegal and Togo. Further expansion is underway in Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, and Chad. While initial investment is required from local institutions or the donor community, almost all platforms were successful in operating on a cash-positive and self-sustaining basis.

Addressing Local Needs and Community Engagement

Local Needs and Community Engagement

The experiences of the multifunctional platform project show that affordable energy services can make significant contributions to improving the livelihoods of rural women. Through a multifaceted, context-specific approach, the project was able to achieve success in addressing multiple causes of poverty in an environmentally sustainable way. Additionally, a well-designed community-level intervention like the multifunctional platform is able to inform the development of national policies and strategies that reflect concerns of rural women. By focusing on local needs and community-level interventions, policy makers are able to draw on such successes for the development of broader poverty reduction strategies.

For more information on this initiative, please refer to Reducing Rural Poverty through Increased Access to Energy Services: A Review of the Multifunctional Platform Project in Mali.