Diesel engines can be adapted to run on biofuels and oils that can be grown
locally.36 Sustainable cultivation of a local biofuel crop can support the local
economy and isolate the system against high and fluctuating diesel prices.
Jatropha, a shrub originally from South America, has been shown to be a promising
crop for producing biofuel, although challenges in domestication of the plant remain
and other oil plants also offer potential. However, the shrub is well known in
different parts of Africa and is used to create living hedges against wind soil
erosion, to protect vegetable gardens, and to pen in livestock. Jatropha seeds are
pressed to produce the oil.
Experience in Mali with has shown some potential benefits and challenges of using
jatropha as a fuel.37 A key challenge is to produce a sufficient level of biofuel (the
vegetable oil) cost effectively to fuel the adapted diesel engine over time. 3-4 kgs of
Jatropha seeds, corresponding to 3-4 metres of hedgerow, is required to produce 1
litre of jatropha oil. Growing enough jatropha to power a generator may in some
cases lead to conflict over land ownership over newly planted land; be an additional
burden for women and children who have to harvest, transport and process the
seeds; and lead to gender conflicts between men who traditionally plant hedges
and women who collect seeds.
However production of jatropha oil can also reduce cash outflow for fossil fuels
from an area and add value to local resources. Various additional benefits can be
realised from growing jatropha; it is a low-input plant so can be grown on relatively
low-fertility soils (although not without yield decline); jatropha plants can act as a
barrier against the wind and soil erosion as living hedgerows; the by-products can
be used for organic fertiliser or livelihood enterprises such as soap production; use
of jatropha as a fuel (if no fossil fuel inputs are used) is carbon neutral and may be
eligible for carbon finance.
Initiation Date and Duration
Energy Services Provided
Multifunctional Platform (MFP)
1st phase: 1993 – 2004. 2nd phase: 2008 – ongoing
1st phase: UNDP, GEF, DANIDA, ADB, NORAD.
2nd phase: Gates Foundation
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
1st phase: ~450 MFPs installed. 2nd phase: 600 MFPs by
2012 (includes Burkina Faso and Senegal)
1st phase: ~80000 clients (mostly women)
Grinding, de-husking, battery charging, water pumping,
oil pressing, welding machines, carpentry tools, and
lighting through mini grids
UNDP Energy. Mali Folkecenter.
Background and project description
The MFP was piloted in a joint project by the United Nations Industrial Development
Organization (UNIDO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in two
West African countries, Mali and Burkina Faso. It was aimed at reducing time spent on the
repetitive and energy-intensive domestic non-productive tasks allocated to women, such as
Renewable Energy to Reduce Poverty in Africa