Yemeni rural women launch the country’s first private solar energy grid

October 15, 2019

Women Solar-Grid project in Abs, Hajjah

Increased prices and the frequent failure of Yemen’s public electricity grid has left citizens with few options. They may either install individual solar systems in their homes or subscribe to a private diesel-powered energy grid. Both options are expensive and significantly add to household financial burdens.  

To lighten the load on citizens in the Abs district, Hajjah governorate, the Enhanced Rural Resilience in Yemen (ERRY) Joint Programme has supported 10 female entrepreneurs in establishing a private solar grid. The USD $37,000 grant will provide a clean source of energy at 80 per cent less cost than diesel-generated power.

This sort of project is new to Yemen and serves to empower rural women to launch their own business – an undertaking that is remarkably rare in the country. “The project was not easy to get off the ground,” says Project Lead, Eman Hadi. “We went through a lot to establish this project because of the perspective Yemenis have on working women,” she indicated.

This innovative initiative adopted the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP’s) flagship 3x6 Approach designed to support the creation of sustainable livelihoods to build resilience of crisis-affected-communities, helping facilitate a more rapid return to sustainable development. This approach includes implementing development-oriented activities as quickly as possible after crises. Encouraging decentralized access to solar energy is a key approach by UNDP.

UNDP’s partner, the Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF), provided entrepreneurs with business training and guidance on the efficiently using their grant money – which was primarily directed toward the purchase of 36 solar panels, 16 batteries and 2 invertors.

While conducting regular maintenance for batteries

“We launched our service only a month ago,” says Eman, “and we now have 20 households subscribing to our service. With our current solar system, we can provide the service to 40 households, and we hope we will be able to expand soon.”

The project has expanded from 22 customers in 2018 to 44 customers currently. It has resulted a total savings of YER 1,171,570 (approximately USD $2,000) that will be used to purchase food and access basic needs for the 10 women and their families. This initiative is expected to have reduced over five tons of carbon dioxide, contributing to a safer environment and less pollution.


The Enhanced Rural Resilience in Yemen (ERRY) joint programme is funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and World Food Programme (WFP) in the Yemeni governorates of Hajjah, Hodeidah, Lahj and Abyan.  The three-year programme aims to enhance the resilience and self-reliance of crisis-affected rural communities through support to livelihoods stabilization, food security, local governance, social cohesion and improved access to sustainable energy. UNDP works in partnership with the Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF).