Luz para as Meninas: Light For Girls

May 23, 2024

Author: Samory Araújo, Head of Solutions Mapping, UNDP Cabo Verde Accelerator Lab


Energy is an important part of the economic sector, which Cabo Verde depends upon. A key priority of the government is to ensure affordable access to energy for 100% of the country’s handholds. According to the National Institute of Statistics, in 2015 the country had an electricity access rate of 86%. 

Electricity from the national network grid continues to be the main energy source for lighting (58%), followed using by (18.7%) and oil (15.4%). It is no surprise access to electricity is strongly linked to economic purchasing power. Lower-income families and or the poor mostly use candles and oil. 

In São Vicente Island, one of the most populated urban centers for example, still lots of houses within the city boundary limits, and owned by single women, do not have access to electricity due to houses configuration (tin houses) and poverty.

The «Luz para as Meninas» project emerged as response to lack of energy access of women led households with girls in school age in São Vicente Island, where there is high rate of poverty, unstructured families, with a low level of education. 

Partnership for Renewable Energy solution 

The island of São Vicente has more than half of the tin houses in Cape Verde. According to INE, at the time of the 2020 General Population and Housing Census, the island had 1,771 tin houses, representing 56.7 per cent of the country's 3,125 tin houses. People live in these dwellings in an inhumane way (no bathrooms, no electricity), in other words without the minimum living conditions. Based on this assumption, the "Luz paras as Meninas" project was born, which consists of installing solar lighting kits in tin houses on the island of São Vicente, an initiative of the Organization of Cape Verdean Women (OMCV), São Vicente Delegation. 

The first phase of the project emerged during the pandemic, with the aim of supporting families headed by women or with girls who are students, who have no access to electricity in São Vicente, and who live in tin-roofed houses without access to new information technologies.  It had already been implemented by OMCV with funding from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, benefiting around 50 schoolgirls and their families. “The project was a success”.

The aim of this initiative is not only to provide lighting for the families living in these houses, but also to create the conditions for girls and boys to study at night and develop their knowledge, which “will enable them to achieve other things and change their lives”. Another benefit of the project is that residents no longer have to rely on candles or petrol to light their homes, reducing the risk of fire.

The partnership between the Lab and OMCV aimed to provide access to electricity for 150 families living in homes unsuitable for grid connection, while ensuring that girls would have access to energy to study at night. The project also aimed to raise awareness of the use of renewable energy through the distribution of a solar energy production kit.

Target group

Initially, the project targeted 150 girls living in tin shacks on the island of São Vicente who wanted to improve their living conditions. Indirectly, 600 people would benefit, relatives of the direct beneficiaries. In the end, the project benefited 70% of the girls and 30% of the families of boys of school age.

Key Project milestones 

  • Meeting between OMCV-SV and UNDP /Accelerator Lab.

  • Signature of the contract between UNDP and OMCV

  • Working meetings with the OMCV technical team to analyses and discuss aspects of the project, such as the type of project, beneficiaries, etc.

  • Visit to communities on the island of São Vicente to meet local NGOs to raise their awareness of the importance of using renewable energy.

  • Signing of the contract for the supply of kits and the provision of manufacturing services, assembly and fixing of supports for the kits.

  • Travel to communities, meet beneficiaries and project partners.

  • Project monitoring and evaluation


Benefits / Impact:

  • Improved quality of life: 575 people, including 381 women (66%) and 194 men (34%), now benefit from access to clean, renewable energy, improving the health, education, and security of their families.

  • Promoting gender equality: The project prioritized families with women and/or girls in school, helping to reduce the gender gap in access to education and opportunities.

  • Economic empowerment: Reducing lighting costs frees up financial resources for other basic needs, promoting women's economic empowerment.


For the scale-up phase, Luz para as Meninas has partnered with the Global Environment Facility through its Small Grants Programme, which has already funded an additional 170 families on the island of Sao Vicente, further increasing the impact of the Luz para as Meninas project.

The project aims to reach 1,000 families on three islands (S. Vicente, Maio Santiago). This initiative may require an estimated budget of USD 100,000, which could be a combination of funding from the Small Grants Programme (SGP), the Accelerator Lab (Lab) and potential partnerships with other organizations or donors.

Building on the successful experience of the Luz para as Meninas project, the Office will expand this initiative in 2024 by 

  • Extending the project to other areas of São Vicente and beyond, to the islands of Maio and Santiago, reaching a wider population and addressing energy access challenges in multiple regions.

  • Involve local community leaders, residents, and stakeholders in the planning and decision-making process to tailor the project to their specific needs.

  • Working with local organizations, government agencies and NGOs to pool resources, share expertise and leverage collective efforts to increase the project's reach and impact.


The Lab has already established a link with UNI-CV to create the "Kafuka Renewable Energy Solution" (a local solar energy solution for lighting that can be more affordable).

Local production of kits in Cabo Verde, creating opportunities for skills development. Work with academic institutions for a research and development (R&D) component to improve and innovate the technology according to local needs and conditions.