Aid work in Ethiopia through Engineers Without Borders

Multiconsult’s Linn Silje Undem travelled to Ethiopia through Engineers Without Borders Norway (IUG). While she was there she looked at how renewable energy can be implemented in the Development Fund’s new five-year programme to combat poverty.

25. February, 2016

Renewable energy in Ethiopia

In spite of Ethiopia being rich in energy resources, only twenty percent of the population has access to electricity. In rural areas, the figure falls to only around two percent.

“The lack of access to essential services is holding back the country’s development and growth. Meanwhile, cooking with traditional forms of energy like biomass is leading to deforestation. Old, inefficient stoves also lead to a higher incidence of respiratory diseases,” says Linn Silje Undem, who works as an energy analyst at Multiconsult.

Renewable heat and light

The Development Fund wanted an assessment of how various renewable energy technologies can be implemented within its programme Climate Adaptation and Rural Development (CARD), both to achieve climate adaptation and for the benefit of people who are not connected to the national electricity grid. Multiconsult’s tasks included presenting 2-4 potential solutions with their advantages, challenges, restrictions and cost per household.

“It was motivating to use my background in renewable energy to help make a difference to the people who need it most. In the project I looked at how efficient clean-burning stoves could replace the traditional kind with an open flame. I also assessed various options for providing people with access to services like electric lighting, including solar panels and biogas. My recommendations and conclusions will help to inform and improve the prioritisation of the Development Fund’s resources in the CARD programme going forward,” says Undem.

Partnership with Engineers Without Borders

Since 2013, Multiconsult has had a partnership with IUG. In recent years, a number of our employees have spent time abroad working on joint projects with this non-governmental organisation.

“We wish to continue supporting the work of IUG, both through direct funding and by providing humanitarian engineering expertise. We will ensure that employees who wish to work on IUG projects are given time off, as a sense of social responsibility and solidarity are qualities that we greatly value” says Guri Lindmark, the CSR and Environment Manager at Multiconsult.

Humanitarian Engineering Hub (HeH) on LinkedIn

As well as contributing to projects, Multiconsult wishes to support IUG’s new approach to building up humanitarian engineering expertise, the Humanitarian Engineering Hub (HeH). HeH is a low-threshold concept on LinkedIn to facilitate collaboration and problem-solving within IUG’s priority areas (renewable energy, water and sanitation, construction, transportation and agriculture). The idea, which is similar to “crowdsourcing”, involves having a critical mass of people whose expertise can be mobilised quickly and efficiently to solve problems.

“If you’re curious and would like to learn more about what humanitarian engineering expertise involves, HeH is a good place to start,” concludes Lindmark.