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The Breaking the Barriers programme aims to increase rural women’s jobs and income in the sustainable energy sector, improve working and living conditions, promote gender equality, and strengthen women’s social status.

We are supporting women to create and own Women’s Led Sustainable Energy Enterprises in some of the poorest and remote off-grid communities. 

These groups receive training in sustainable energy products and technologies, business skills and can access finance through savings and loans groups.  

The project was launched on March 8th, to celebrate International Women’s Day.

To see how sustainable energy is changing lives in Malawi, follow Clara's story and her role in the Tsapa women's group. 


Burkina Faso, Malawi, Ethiopia, and Honduras


February 2018 - May 2022

Programme value:


Target population:

It is estimated that upwards of 3 million people will benefit from this project

Funded by:

80% is funded by the European Union (EU), the remaining is funded by Christian Aid.

Funded by the European Union

List Funders, collaborators, sponsors - Particle
EU Breaking the Barriers

EU Breaking the Barriers

Over the last decade, Christian Aid and its partners have reached remote communities without access to energy across Africa and Latin America. 

We have achieved this through the installation, distribution, and integration of sustainable energy products and technologies. We provide innovative financing models, as well as business and technical assistance. 

Sustainable energy technologies and products have been used in agricultural enterprises as well as at the household level, including lighting and cell phone charging via Pico Solar and cooking through improved cook stoves.  

To scale up our work, the EU funded women and sustainable energy project, 'Breaking the Barriers', aims to increase women’s access to production, marketing and distribution of sustainable energy products and services, as well as to influence environment policy. 

Breaking the Barriers and The Big Shift

The Big Shift Campaign calls for a shift in energy investment from fossil fuels to renewable energy, whilst promoting access to energy for all.

Breaking the Barriers is a practical example of the call for this shift.

The project will work to enhance awareness of sustainable energy and women’s role in sustainable energy sector.

It aims to support increased access to energy in rural communities in the four countries where we are working.

Our approach

Women will be supported to create and own Women’s Led Sustainable Energy Enterprises. They will receive training in sustainable energy products and technologies, and business skills.  

The women will have access to loans to build their micro-enterprises.  

They will experience the added value of selling or purchasing sustainable energy products, for example biogas and solar-powered refrigerators.  

As a result, women will be able to increase their income by selling preserved foods at a better price when there is low market supply. 

Solar-powered irrigation systems will enable women to cultivate larger areas, increasing production and reducing time spend on gathering water. 

Solar lighting will reduce kerosene emissions and provide cheaper access to lighting for household activities. 

Through access to sustainable energy products, communities will be able to reduce expenditure on unsustainable energy sources, including wood, kerosene and batteries. 

The women will also be trained to lobby on regional and national platforms and networks, so they can push local and national authorities to support sustainable energy enterprises, for example through the reduction of taxes on the importation of sustainable energy products. 


When established, the 201 WLSEEs will drastically increase the local sustainable energy products and related services. They will be more readily available and at a lower price.

Measures taken by local and national authorities to ease WLSEEs' work will contribute to make this increase sustainable, as will awareness-raising work on the added value of sustainable energy, which will boost consumers’ demand.

We are delighted to announce that the Breaking the Barriers programme has won a Climate Coalition Green Heart Hero Award for overseas inspiration. It recognises that women are central to ensuring meaningful development through sustainable energy.

News and stories

List articles – by theme

Women champion greener cooking stove businesses in Ethiopia

Find out how the growing cook stove market in southern Ethiopia is changing the lives of women as well as fighting the impact of the climate crisis.

Solar shop success in Ethiopia

See how solar energy shops are helping to stop deforestation and climate change in Ethiopia

Lusako Women’s cooperative take on energy giant in Malawi

Find out how the Lusako Women’s rice milling cooperative in Karonga District Malawi successfully took on an energy giant to prevent their business from stalling.

Women in the sustainable energy sector in Honduras

Marlen is a leader in her community, supporting other women to gain financial independence, equality and protect the environment.

Empowering sustainable energy shops in Honduras

Glenda Rodriguez, from Christian Aid Honduras, reports on how we are supporting women to establish successful sustainable energy enterprises.

Reports and resources

List Resources – by content reference (specific page match)

Breaking the barriers Honduras update

Breaking the barriers Honduras update

Breaking the barriers programme overview

A short overview of the programme to date

Contact us

Want to know more? If you have any enquiries about our work, please contact us.