Off-Grid Solar Facilities Offer Solution To Climate Change Adversities In Kenya
As the world grapples with rising heatwave, a section of Kenya's fishing community has got a shot in the arm thanks to the innovation from MYPAG, a Danish firm, which has enabled them access off-grid cooling facilities for their fish. This is a lifeline to Kenyan fishermen as over 1.05 billion people among the rural and urban poor, globally, are at risk from lack of access to cooling, according to the latest findings from Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) report, Chilling Prospects: Tracking Sustainable Cooling for All 2019.
According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) about 150,000 Kenyans make their living fishing in the East Africa coastal regions bordering the Indian Ocean. Collectively they harvest an estimated 187,000 tons of fresh seafood. An estimated one-third of the country's post-harvest seafood is lost before it can be sold and safely consumed, due to lack of accessible centralized cold-storage facilities. Fresh fish kept at 0°C is preserved up to 10 days, but only a few hours at 30°C. As a result, Worldwide Fund for Nature in partnership with Danish clean energy company M-PAYG, is providing fishing communities with affordable off-grid solar-powered cooling appliances.
The two firm's efforts are god sent for the fishing community as it has transformed their fortunes. The main market barriers for providing cold supply chain facilities to the sector are that the small-scale fishers are unbanked and do not have access to credit in order to invest in cold storage equipment. In addition, many of the fishing-dependent communities are either off-grid or do not have access to reliable and affordable electricity to run such equipment, as only 30% of the Kenyan population have access to reliable electricity.
M-PAYG's work in supporting the fishing communities in Kenya is among the efforts that are advocated by global players encouraging countries to adopt sustainable cooling methods to combat adverse effects of climate change.
The lack of access to proper cooling facilities for most poor population in Kenya resonates with the rest of Africa, where the rates of growth of those at high risk are significantly greater than the rate of population growth according to the (SEforALL) report. The report notes that while population growth across Africa is averaging at 5.7%, the growth rate for those at high risk is 19.1% for the urban poor (those living largely in urban slums) and 28.7% for the rural poor (those living in rural areas and largely without access to electricity).
Overall, of the high-impact countries in Africa, 47% of their total populations are categorized as highest risk, which is an increase from 40% in 2018. The rapid urbanization in Kenya and on the continent is also contributing to the rising heatwave. "As the world rapidly urbanizes and temperatures only grow, we risk a significant increase in the number of people without access to sustainable cooling," said António Mexia, Chairman of the SEforALL Administrative Board and CEO of Energias de Portugal (EDP). "By 2030, the cost of productivity losses will be $2 trillion, and it will be the developing world that suffers the greatest "productivity penalty" as they deal with record temperatures and lack of cooling, stunting economic growth and further exacerbating global cooling inequity."
This year's report, the second in the Chilling Prospects series, shows a notable growth in the numbers of 'urban poor' - those living in cities yet often lacking reliable access to electricity - at highest risk from a lack of cooling access. 680 million people living in urban slums have little or no cooling to protect them in a heatwave - a rise of 50 million people in the past year - with an additional 365 million people living in poor rural areas also at high risk. A further 2.2 billion in the lower middle class are only able to afford cheaper, less energy efficient air conditioners, potentially causing a spike in global energy demand and profound negative climate impacts.
Brian Dean, Head of Cooling and Energy Efficiency at Sustainable Energy for All, highlighted the need to see cooling access as a right: "In a warming world facing ongoing deadly impacts from climate change, we cannot view cooling as a luxury. In a heatwave, it can be a matter of life or death for children and older people. It ensures that workers are productive, that families can store nutritious food securely, and that infants can receive an effective vaccine in a rural clinic. Delivering sustainable cooling is an issue of equity that will enable millions to escape poverty and help to realize the Sustainable Development Goals."