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Mar 22, 2021

*Business Case* - Senergy and Ten Merina Social Support Program

Development of a Community Support Programme: Empowering those within the Impacted Area

 

As a long-term investor, Meridiam is contributing to Senegal’s objectives and plans to diversify their energy mix. In addition, maintaining social cohesion through the implementation of a community support programme has become an underlying mission of the project.

 

The construction of photovoltaic solar power plants in Santhiou Mékhé and Mbouky confirmed the commitment of the project companies (SPV) to their concrete ambitions for sustainable development. Meridiam’s involvement in the financing of Senegalese public infrastructure projects has proved crucial to the socio-economic development of the area impacted. “A project is only accepted by the people when they take ownership of it. It was a great opportunity to create an infrastructure in our community that would have a direct impact on the entire territory of Senegal. In addition to financial compensation, a livelihood restoration plan has been implemented by the project company” said the Mayor of the Municipality of Merana Dakhar, Mr. Aymérou Gningue.

The current Senegalese legislation includes an expropriation procedure under which the state can assign land to a public utility project with fair and prior compensation. As part of the solar power plant construction and operation, the total amount of compensation for landowners amounted to 734,000 euros. However, through the application of the Performance Standards 1 and 5 of the International Finance Corporation, a wider compensatory development programme for the affected communities has also been implemented.(1)

This support programme was developed in the settlement area through a participatory and inclusive approach. “The baseline established following the household survey identified the ecosystem of the affected communities. We then discussed with the local people to understand their development priorities with the cooperation of the town halls and the administrative authorities. Cheikh Jeylani Diop, CEO of the Project Companies.

Close consultation with the neighbouring populations of the solar power plants, the municipalities of Méouane, Mérina Dakhar and the relevant technical services, has resulted in the design of a series of priority activities for the restoration of livelihoods. A committee to monitor the activities of the solar power plants and the commitments of the project companies ensures the implementation of these actions in coordination with the relevant stakeholders. Mr. Massamba Gueye, Chairman of the Monitoring Committee of Senergy PV SA explains: “Our organization was born from the first discussions on the installation of the solar power plant. We felt it necessary to form a structure representing all populations that would serve as an interface between the project and the affected communities. In addition, a grievance mechanism process provides a communication channel for those affected by the project, allowing their expectations to be taken into account and the accompanying programme to be adjusted following feedback.

The installation of the photovoltaic solar power plants in Santhiou Mékhé and Mbouky necessitated the acquisition of sites with an area of 82 ha and 64 hectares respectively. Farmland was previously made up of rainfed fields operated by several generations of market gardeners. “Senegalese agriculture is dominated by family-type farms that occupy about 95% of the country’s agricultural land” (Hathie and Ba, 2014, 200). Despite agriculture’s heavy reliance on rainfall, data collected at the Tivavouane weather station indicated that the annual precipitation cycle observed in the study area was characterized by a long dry season of more than nine months.

“Before the plant was built, we were in seasonal agriculture. At the end of the rainy season, we were active in other low-income economic areas such as trade.” Gora Diakhaté, President of the 33 PAP GIE (Project Affected People Economic Interest Group) at the Mbouky solar power plant.

The installation of market gardening perimeters was therefore at the heart of the programme to support the financial empowerment of the affected communities. By moving from a subsistence system to a trading system, intensive agriculture becomes compatible with the objectives of the project and the economic ambitions of producers.

Diagnostic studies prior to the implementation of this activity showed that yields obtained with 0.1 ha of irrigated land are often higher than yields on a 1 ha rainfall area.

For example, Senergy PV SA has made a 14-hectare agricultural field at Santhiou Mékhé available to the 66 PAPs of the solar power plant. The eleven landowners affected were compensated by the project company, who also included them in the income loss compensation program. In addition, Ten Merina Ndakhar SA has developed a 10 ha agricultural area derived from the 82 hectares repurposed for the Mbouky solar power plant. Similarly, a hydrogeological study was conducted to determine the location of the most productive boreholes used to supply water to the micro-irrigation system of the market garden perimeters.

The PAPs also received capacitybuilding training in agricultural techniques and organizational financial management for seven months. Community empowerment and self-reliance remain Meridiam’s primary objective in this livelihood restoration program.

As a result, the project companies have been working with their consultant E-S OSIEC SAS to implement the activities of the functional market garden perimeters since 2019. In addition, an agricultural engineer monitors and manages the farm. Working capital is also made available to the Economic Interest Group for the purpose of achieving financial autonomy and transferring exclusive management to PAPs. The implementation of this agricultural activity by Senergy PV SA and Ten Merina Ndakhar SA required an estimated overall budget of 303,000 euros.

The diversification of two agricultural campaigns has resulted in the affected farmers being able to market garden products such as tomato, okra, chilli, onion, eggplant and peanuts. Similarly, there has been a significant increase in the participation of affected communities in the activities of the market garden since the first year of operation. Their strong presence at thematic meetings and committees stimulates their involvement in decision-making, and their ownership of this part of the programme.

The installation of solar power plants has contributed to the creation of new economic opportunities. This goal has been achieved on the one hand through a long-term partnership with the Operational and Maintenance team and, on the other hand, through the awarding of the land for PAP sites. As a result, the total turnover of EIG reached 35,000 euros in November 2020.

The financial empowerment of vulnerable social groups in the area is central to the plan to ensure the longterm success of the project companies loss compensation program. In addition, Ten Merina Ndakhar SA has developed a 10 ha agricultural area derived from the 82 hectares repurposed for the Mbouky solar power plant. Similarly, a hydrogeological study was conducted to determine the location of the most productive boreholes used to supply water to the micro-irrigation system of the market garden perimeters. The PAPs also received capacitybuilding training in agricultural techniques and organizational financial management for seven months. Community empowerment and self-reliance remain Meridiam’s primary objective in this livelihood restoration program. As a result, the project companies have been working with their consultant E-S OSIEC SAS to implement the activities of the functional market garden perimeters since 2019. In addition, an agricultural engineer monitors and manages the farm. Working capital is also made available to the Economic Interest Group for the purpose of achieving financial autonomy and transferring exclusive management to PAPs. The implementation of this agricultural activity by Senergy PV SA and Ten Merina Ndakhar SA required an estimated overall budget of 303,000 euros. The diversification of two agricultural campaigns has resulted in the affected farmers being able to market garden products such as tomato, okra, chilli, onion, eggplant and peanuts. Similarly, there has been a significant increase in the participation of affected communities in the activities of the market garden since the first year of operation. Their strong presence at thematic meetings and committees stimulates their involvement in decision-making, and their ownership of this part of the programme. The installation of solar power plants has contributed to the creation of new economic opportunities. This goal has been achieved on the one hand through a long-term partnership with the Operational and Maintenance team and, on the other hand, through the awarding of the land for PAP sites. As a result, the total turnover of EIG reached 35,000 euros in November 2020. The financial empowerment of vulnerable social groups in the area is central to the plan to ensure the longterm success of the project companies.

 

Source:

1)IFC Performance Standards are: -Performance Standard 1 – Assessment and Management of Environmental and Social Risks and Impacts -Performance Standard 2 – Labour and Working Conditions -Performance Standard 3 – Resource Effieciency and Pollution Prevention -Performance Standard 4 – Community Health, Safety and Security -Performance Standard 5 – Land Acquisition and Involontary Resettlement

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