Phionah Nalubega is a young Ugandan woman committed to climate action and the transition to renewable energies. She has 6 years of experience working directly with esteemed renewable energy organizations and has provided business development services to 100+ green enterprises on capacity-building projects supported by major funders like the EU-UGEFA, the UNCDF, the GGGI, and the Standard Chartered Foundation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has completed specialized training in renewable energy technology. She is also an alum of the Africa Fellowship for Young Energy Leaders (AFYEL). 

As a committed climate advocate, Phionah is driven to develop and support renewable energy and capacity-building initiatives that focus on community empowerment, gender equality, and environmental conservation. Having lived in urban areas with access to energy and rural settings without it, Phionah understands the advantages of having energy access and the hardships that come with a lack of clean energy for lighting and cooking. Through her work, she has seen the significant impact that clean energy access and capacity-building projects can have on addressing climate change as well as social and economic issues.

During her time as part of the Climate Solutions Lab, she has gained an appreciation for the power of innovation and collaboration. “I used to believe that solving climate change required grand or large-scale action from governments or big corporations. However, working in the Lab showed me that grassroots innovation, as well as individual and local solutions, can have a significant impact. It’s not just about big policies; it’s about empowering communities to create change from the ground up.”

“As we continue on this climate action journey, let’s remember that every small step we take today shapes the world of tomorrow. Let’s be inspired by the power of innovation, collaboration, and community-driven solutions. Together, we can create a more sustainable and equitable future for all.”

Phionah and her team conducted market research and did extensive testing to develop a cookstove that runs on biodiesel, a clean and sustainable alternative to firewood. By engaging with diverse stakeholders and subject matter experts within the clean cooking space, she gathered valuable insights that informed her product design and iteration decisions. She and her team tested and modified six prototypes to improve functionality and efficiency and used customer discovery to shape and validate their final design. In addition, they explored different feedstock options for biodiesel, leading to productive partnerships with local organizations and the use of energy crops for biodiesel production. Phionah’s climate solution exemplifies her dedication and strategic approach.

“For young people, as we strive for a sustainable future, I want us to remember that every small step we take today shapes the world of tomorrow, and no matter how small the action is, it can contribute to a greater good. Let us unite and take action to overcome the challenges of climate change.”


Climate Solution Summary Waste to Energy – Biodiesel Cooking Solutions to Combat Climate Change in Uganda

Ninety-five percent  of Ugandans rely on firewood and fossil fuels for cooking. These traditional cooking methods are a major source of  greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate deforestation, which limits the Earth’s natural capacity to sequester carbon. In Uganda, it’s common to see women and girls carrying firewood, as it’s often a daily necessity. Women bear the brunt of this burden; on average, they spend 20 hours a week searching for firewood, resulting in gendered time poverty, financial inequality, and safety risks. 

The energy-efficient cookstove powered by biodiesel from waste oil offers a tangible solution to the problems at hand. It is designed to transform the way people cook, making it time-saving, safe, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. The specific objectives of this project include providing an affordable and sustainable cooking alternative to lift the burden on women, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and health risks from indoor air pollution. The biodiesel cooking solution is a revolutionary intervention that not only addresses climate change but also promotes a paradigm shift and aligns with the agenda for poverty alleviation, gender equality, and a sustainable future.