How can sub-Saharan African cities mainstream gender in their climate and energy actions?

Published: 25 Oct 2022
Adaptation Events General
How can sub-Saharan African cities mainstream gender in their climate and energy actions?

On 4 October 2022, at the Climate Chance Summit in Dakar, the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA) became the first initiative in sub-Saharan Africa to launch gender guides specific for local governments on climate action planning and project implementation.

Gender equality is a significant objective of CoM SSA, as tackling climate change and improving access to energy needs to be an inclusive process. In accordance with international standards, the initiative has therefore committed itself to mainstream gender across all activities implemented and projects supported. To this end, CoM SSA has developed practical resources to help its signatories co-create gender-responsive climate and energy projects with all relevant stakeholders following a participatory approach.

These guides were launched during a dedicated session that brought together local governments that are leading the way in this topic and who were able to showcase the concrete actions they are taking to mainstream gender. Kisumu County (Kenya), Maputo (Mozambique) and Nouakchott (Mauritania) are already integrating gender into their projects and plans on energy access, transportation and public lighting, and were thus able to provide advice to other municipalities looking to do the same.

On behalf of Kisumu County, Morelly Adalla presented how the county integrated a gender analysis component into their data collection on energy access. The exercise showed that 52% of citizens lack access to energy and that – similar to other cities in SSA – charcoal and firewood are the primary sources of energy for cooking. Although these results were expected, the survey provided a surprising trend that men were more likely to be collecting cooking fuel. In addition, the time taken to acquire firewood has reduced significantly to around 30 minutes or less per journey. This raised additional questions on the commercialization of cooking sources in Kisumu. The county will continue to look into these results and explore participatory methods of engaging all members of the community.


 “When planning any project or activity, we ask ourselves three key questions:
have we considered gender in this decision; is it the same for men and women; and, if not, how is it different”.
Gilda Florentina, Maputo Metropolitan Area & Loide Atália da Silva Massagaie, Maputo City Council. © CoM SSA


Representing the Metropolitan Area of Maputo, Gilda Florentina and Loide Atália da Silva Massagaie showcased how the municipality has integrated gender into every phase of its transportation planning. The process that Maputo undertook highlighted the substantial differences that are felt between men and women regarding public transportation.

The data collected showed that men are more likely to own a driving license, making women most impacted by the issues linked to the use of public transport, with personal safety being at the forefront.

Mapping these challenges and planning accordingly involved several institutional partnerships which allowed the city to map violent incidents in public transportation and facilitate technical training and experience sharing, for example, for bus drivers as the first agents of response.

The City of Nouakchott was featured in a CoM SSA study conducted by AFD with Econoler on how to develop useful gender-sensitive tools and methodologies for municipalities and other stakeholders involved in identifying, preparing, implementing and monitoring urban public-lighting projects.






 “If I had to give advice to another city working on a public lighting project with a focus on gender,
I would say to start with a strategic plan that includes concrete actions.
Second, is to form a management committee who is in charge of the lighting
and catalyse men to also be involved”.
Fatimetou Boukhreiss, City of Nouakchott. © CoM SSA


Fatimetou Boukhreiss presented the experience from Nouakchott, where a collaborative and participatory process took place in several districts that identified issues related to harassment and sexual violence that was experienced by the population. For example, discussions with market vendors showed that women felt in danger at night due to the lack of public lighting. The city was thus able to identify different recommendations, including the need for campaigns of sensitisation and improvement of infrastructure.

As a result, Nouakchott installed 156 streetlamps and was able to measure the impact of this action on the security of the local population: shop owners reported increased sales, additional activities such as weddings were able to take place at night, and cooperatives have been created to work on public lighting.











The examples showcased during CoM SSA Day in Dakar confirmed that it is essential to integrate gender into planning and project development processes. Thanks to the session, participants were able to gain more information and make better decisions leading to the improvement of the lives of their citizens.

CoM SSA will continue to prioritise gender mainstreaming by showcasing and supporting the work of its signatories on this topic. To find out more, refer to the CoM SSA resources to mainstream gender in climate and energy actions here. 

Watch the session recording here

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