Sustainable energy for smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda



Solar irrigation

The project aims on renewable energy technologies and services for irrigation, cooling and drying of smallholder farmers in dairy and horticultural value chains

Today, the Productive Use of Energy (PUE) is one of the most relevant challenges in agricultural value chains to improve smallholder farmers livelihoods and increase the resilience to climate change contributing to GHG emissions reduction.

In January 2021, the IKEA Foundation in partnership with EnDev started to promote PUE in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. The programme has a total budget of EUR 8 million and will run until end of 2023.


Smallholder farmers living in Sub-Saharan Africa are earning less than 1.90 USD per day on average. Nearly one-quarter of the population is suffering from malnutrition. At the same time, climate change impacts smallholders in Africa disproportionately due to higher incidences of drought, floods, and average temperature rise. Women and youth often lack access to essential resources like land and financing; in addition, they are often excluded from decision making. However, despite their obligations in the household they contribute 50% to the labour force, mainly processing and selling of produce and products.

In rural regions in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda smallholder farmers often use expensive and harmful energy sources which prevent them from efficiently farming and preserving agricultural products. However, the high potential of renewable energy technologies and related energy services for PUE remains widely unused. The lack of access to sustainable and affordable energy technologies and services is the core problem that is addressed by this project.

Solutions and Impact

The project aims to incorporate the use of renewable energy technologies and services for irrigation, cooling and drying for smallholder farmers in dairy and horticultural value chains to help achieve increased productivity, improved nutrition, higher incomes, and improved climate-resilient and food. The project is focusing on identifying and piloting scalable, innovative PUE business cases for smallholder farmers and related local businesses. In addition, smallholder farmers, agri-businesses and solar enterprises will receive access to solar energy solutions and technological know-how. EnDev will ensure the transfer of respective experiences from Kenya and Uganda to Ethiopia.

The business model follows a holistic approach, focusing on the comprehensive improvement of rural livelihoods using PUE technologies. It is expected to improve their nutrition situation, increase  resilience to climate change and contribute to greenhouse gas emission reduction by:

  • Solar irrigation in the production of fruits and vegetables including post harvesting processes,

  • Solar cooling in the value chain of dairy products, provision of water and feed in dairy, use of renewable energy-based cooling systems and solar PV cooling / ice production.

An Innovation fund will provide small grants on a competitive basis. It can offer grants up to EUR 22,500 per applicant. These are registered entities with promising business cases which can demonstrate small-scale success stories. At least 25% will be the initiatives of women and youth (younger than 35 years).

Strong alliance of partners

The IKEA Foundation is an independent philanthropy focused on creating brighter lives on a liveable planet through its grant giving efforts. It is funded by INGKA Foundation, owner of Ingka Group. Learn more at

EnDev is co-managed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ). For this project, a number of implementing organisations are contracted, with the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation being one of the most prominent implementation partners of EnDev.

Our donors and partners

IKEA Foundation
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