17 Mar 2020
Bekaa, Lebanon
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Few countries could use a shake-up of the renewable energy sector as much as Lebanon. Despite the nation’s tiny size, Lebanese citizens endure constant power cuts; Lebanon has the world’s fourth-worst level of electricity access, ahead of only Haiti, Nigeria and Yemen. To make matters worse, the electricity that is produced comes at a huge environmental toll — the national grid burns fuel oil and private generators use harmful diesel.

Not a moment too soon, the innovative women behind RISE2030 have boldly stepped into the breach, as they help drive Lebanon’s long overdue shift towards solar energy. What is more, RISE 2030 is showing that women can compete in an industry long dominated by men. The female installation team has busily created solar facilities, while challenging gender stereotypes along the way.

“We are doing something that people think women can’t do,” Raja, a RISE2030 worker, said to the local press. “They think that only men can climb up on the roof and do something like this.”

Established in 2018, RISE2030 represents the vision of forward-thinking women, from a variety of complementary backgrounds: renewable energy, construction, sustainable development, and female empowerment. The plan was ambitious: the project would provide jobs and solar energy training for deprived communities in Lebanon.

RISE2030 distinguished itself from other renewable energy initiatives by making women the stars of the show. The concept appealed to the German government which, through development agency GIZ, agreed to fund the project.

Since those beginnings, the team has installed solar energy panels at various locations in Bekaa, a rural governorate in eastern Lebanon. For instance, an all-female crew set up a large-scale solar production system at the Qaroun Material Recovery Facility, which itself promotes sustainability by salvaging valuable waste.

The founders firmly believe that renewable energy can play a valuable role in Bekaa’s economic future, in addition to its environmental importance. RISE2030 has provided practical training about solar production for the region’s youths, refugees, and vulnerable host communities.

That said, RISE2030 creates job opportunities for women beyond those passionate about renewable energy. The project empowers rural women by holding literacy classes or helping female-run small businesses with marketing. 

RISE2030 is keeping the accountant pleased too. The project is earning money and moving towards self-sufficiency, even if practical challenges remain — not least, the scarcity of public transport and infrastructure in remote Lebanese communities.

The initiative’s other main challenge — gender stereotyping — is already falling by the wayside. As Ryme Assaad, RISE2030’s government director, simply put it: “Our female trainees have started feeling empowered after the success of the all-women solar team.”

 

Learn more about RISE2030 through the website, Facebook and Instagram.

Photos courtesy of RISE2030

David is a freelance writer and researcher based in Beirut. He has previously worked in Cairo.David Wood
Femme future: All-women team develops solar energy and jobs in rural Lebanon | The Switchers
RISE2030 Renewable energy and energy efficiency
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