This study was conducted on the role of solar energy in improving the socio-economic conditions of women in Tigrai region, Ethiopia. The specific objectives of the study were to assess the extent of solar energy use, to examine the role of solar energy in promoting women’s income earning strategies and access to social services; to document the perceptions and attitudes of women beneficiaries towards solar energy interventions and assess the challenges and prospects. The study employed both quantitative and qualitative research methods (mainly surveys and ethnography). Primary data were gathered from different sources including beneficiary women household heads, local residents and pertinent administrative bodies. The specific tools for primary data collection include household questionnaires, semi-structured interviews with key informants, focus group discussions, and in-depth interviewing. The study also made use of secondary data obtained from reports and various documents. Primary data were analyzed using descriptive statistics including tables, charts and percentages using appropriate software. Qualitative data were presented in narrative descriptions while the results of the case studies were presented in the form of illustrative boxes to substantiate and consolidate major quantitative findings. The findings of the study indicate a substantial shift from biomass use to photovoltaic(PV) electricity which has improved women’s access to income and social services: shops and cinema houses flourished; radio and TV sets could be used to obtain information; schools and health posts gave better services and the time and energy women spent fulfilling their traditional roles such as cooking was reduced allowing them to actively participate in development activities like soil and water conservation. Major constraints and challenges identified were mainly related to sustainability: problems associated with maintenance, inaccessibility of spare parts, lack of technical skill to operate the systems, lack of follow-ups from concerned bodies as well as financial constraints
Key words: Solar energy, socio-economic impacts, women, Tigrai, Ethiopia.
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