15 September 2021 – Today the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a unique waste-to-energy (WtE) initiative in Lahj governorate. The first of its kind, the plant is a new method of producing energy that may revolutionize the governorate’s approach to addressing waste management. As part of a comprehensive solid waste management system that encourages community members to recycle and reduce waste, the plant turns solid agriculture and municipal waste into gas that can be used to create electricity.

This initiative is the result of a partnership and collaboration between UNDP Yemen, Ministry of Water and Environment, Ministry of International Planning and Cooperation (MoPIC), Environment Protection Authority (Aden and Lahj), District Authority and Electricity Department (Lahj), the Yemeni private sector (SEHAB TECH), the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and UNDP’s SDG Climate Facility, and is implemented by the Supporting Resilient Livelihoods and Food Security in Yemen Joint Programme (ERRY II). It will promote innovative ways of handling solid waste and renewable energy in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner to tackle climate security challenges in Yemen. The initiative will also work to raise awareness and encourage the target community and government counterparts to adopt new waste management behavioural practices through a public-private partnership business model.

“Yemen is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Among other challenges, this has led to energy shortages and poor solid waste management that have created greater human security risks. UNDP’s commitment for climate security induced by the climate change has remained a high priority,” says Mr. Auke Lootsma, UNDP Yemen Resident Representative.

The plant is expected to transform up to five tons of municipal and agricultural solid waste a day and can generate 100 kilowatts hour of electricity and 1 ton of plastic granules. This is enough to power 100 commercial shops and generate approximately 7,500 jobs for vulnerable people in rural areas. The WtE business model will help ensure access to electricity at an affordable price: US$ 2 for 12 hours verses US$ 20 for 12 hours by fossil fuel. The market value of recycled plastic granules is approximately US$ 900 a ton.

In addition to protecting the environment, reducing greenhouse gases, and supporting climate change initiatives, the initiative supports the most vulnerable groups in rural Yemen through employment and money-making opportunities. In addition to the plant employing local technicians for maintenance and operations, people can collect ‘cash-for-trash’ money by collecting trash and bringing it to select businesses that collect the waste to fuel the plant and generate electricity. Additionally, the initiative promotes the use of solar-powered tuk-tuks to facilitate easier and more environmentally friendly collection of waste for those seeking income from the cash-for-trash points.

The initiative aims at encouraging communities, private sector, and institutions to adopt innovative solutions for livelihood improvement and climate security. “Energy is at the heart of the SDGs and clean and sustainable power supply means better basic services for all members of the community. Investments in innovative technologies and processes like WtE that improve clean energy production will positively impact climate security and promote participatory green economy,” Lootsma indicated.


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Leanne Rios, Team Lead for Communications and Advocacy | Leanne.rios@undp.org

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