Group of rural women collecting water at a solarized water point.
Group of rural women collecting water at a solarized water point. | Photo Credit: Ernest Cissé, Tetra Tech

USAID Invests in Solar Energy to Increase Access to Water in Rural Areas

By Modou Fall, Salimata Massaly, Johanna Toure

In Senegal, water companies that have replaced diesel and manual water pump systems with solar energy are seeing their operating and maintenance costs fall by up to 30 percent, improving their business sustainability and service to consumers while helping Senegal meet its goal of 10 percent emissions reduction by 2030. The cost-effective, sustainable, and reliable water service from these pumps paves the way for increased investment in solar solutions by banks and water companies.

Local financial institutions are often hesitant to provide loans for renewable energy projects because of perceived technical, regulatory, and financial risks. Through the Scaling Up Renewable Energy (SURE) program, USAID awarded four grants totaling $546,455 and provided technical support to Aquatech Senegal, FlexEAU S.A., and Société de Gestion des Eaux du Sénégal (SOGES) to convert over 100 diesel and manual water pumping systems to solar, providing water to nearly 450,000 inhabitants. 

The USAID grant seed funding and support from SURE experts enabled the water companies to present technically sound projects to financial institutions with strong repayment capability and aided in building trust that the renewable energy projects would be a good return on investment. La Banque Agricole approved a $200,000 loan for SOGES, and negotiations to finance other grantees are underway. 

At its first site alone, SOGES has saved $1,600 per month, which puts it on track to cover the cost of the assets and installation within 18 months. These kinds of results help validate business model assumptions, demonstrate the commercial viability of investments, and ultimately encourage banks to co-finance such renewable energy projects. By the end of 2024, SURE grants are expected to mobilize $2.1 million in private investment. The grants will also eliminate over 400 tons of CO2 emissions per year as a result of reduced transportation, storage, and consumption of fuel for generators.

In Méréto, the first rural community benefiting from the USAID and La Banque Agricole financing, the impact was immediate and life-changing. Residents now benefit from stable and continuous water supply, as opposed to diesel-powered pumps, which are typically down for more than 35 hours a week. “As farmers, our livelihoods depend on access to water. Waking up this morning to running water in my home gave me hope for a better future,” said Mamadou Ba, a resident of Méréto. 

As farmers, our livelihoods depend on access to water. Waking up this morning to running water in my home gave me hope for a better future,” said Mamadou Ba, a resident of Méréto.

 Solar technology now produces more water than needed for drinking during the day and allows for better planning of horticulture and livestock management in the village, too.

Before, we used to wait for and rely on the rainy season to start our farming activities. Now, with the solar pumping system, we can work all year long, and this will contribute to the growth of Méréto,” said a farmer during a SURE visit to the new solar water pump in August 2023.

SURE’s work in Senegal demonstrates the transformative and sustainable impacts that can benefit communities when financial institutions and businesses collaborate with governments and international organizations. By leveraging available resources, contributes to building innovative business models for clean energy and promotes climate resilience and water security. It also contributes to the creation of specialized maintenance jobs and enhances local productivity, including in livestock and agriculture. 

For more information, visit Scaling Up Renewable Energy in Senegal on Climatelinks.

Country
Senegal
Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Integration, Mitigation
Topics
Climate, Energy, Water and Sanitation
Region
Africa

Modou Fall

Modou Fall, PhD, is the SURE country coordinator in Senegal. He is an engineer and a specialist in renewable energy and energy efficiency, and he has worked in the renewable energy sector for ten years. SURE is a USAID project implemented by Tetra Tech.

Salimata Massaly

Salimata Massaly serves as a Private Sector and Natural Resources Management Specialist at the Economic Growth Office within the USAID Senegal Mission and is the activity manager of SURE Senegal. Her role entails boosting private sector investments with initiatives to reverse environmental degradation through improved natural resource base management. She holds a Master of Science Degree in Agriculture and Resources Economics from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor of Science in Managerial Economics from the University of California Davis.

Johanna Toure

Johanna Toure is the USAID Project Management Energy Specialist in Senegal. She is an energy and sustainable development engineer drawing on seven years of experience in the energy field, particularly in electricity markets and renewable energies. Johanna leads the development, structuring and implementation of the Mission’s energy initiatives and programs. She is also the interlocutor between USAID and stakeholders in the Senegal energy sector.

 

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