The new training programme for domestic workers aims at ensuring they develop best practices for sustainability across households. Image Credit: Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi is empowering domestic helpers to conserve water and energy in UAE households as part of a new initiative that promotes environmental awareness and sustainable living.

Launched by the Department of Community Development (DCD), the Department of Energy (DoE) and domestic helper licensing centres under the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE), the programme aims to make domestic workers agents for change.

The programme has so far been delivered at 16 domestic helper licensing centres in Abu Dhabi, and corresponds with the emirate’s 2030 vision for a more sustainable environment. It has been developed based on a survey conducted by the DoE in 2021, which concluded that domestic helpers can be major enablers of energy and water conservation in the household.

“Sustainability is a top social responsibility and educating the community on the need to reduce water and energy consumption is essential to protecting our nation’s resources and ensure their continuity for future generations. A culture of conservation is necessary to improve energy and water efficiency, which will, in turn, promote responsible consumption. This is what we aim to achieve through our programmes and initiatives. We continue to implement the directives of the wise leadership of the UAE, which aim to achieve long-term sustainability,” said Ahmed Al Falasi, acting executive director of energy efficiency at the DoE.

“The DCD contributed to the development and organisation of the training programme for domestic helpers in Abu Dhabi, considering that they manage energy and water resources at almost all households. Domestic helpers are major contributors to Abu Dhabi’s Vision 2030, supporting reductions in average household consumption by using water and energy more wisely and efficiently. By empowering and equipping them in raising their environmental awareness, we could achieve significant results. Moreover, being environmentally aware and living sustainably is a habit; once formed, it comes naturally. It isn’t just good for the environment; it can also help lower energy bills and save money each month,” said Sheikha Al Hosani, acting executive director of social monitoring and innovation at the DCD.

Sheikha Al Hosani

As many as 390 individuals participated in the training delivered by 32 domestic helper licensing centre instructors. Over 95 per cent of the participants felt that the lessons were easy to implement, and 90 per cent of them found the training to be useful. An impact assessment showed a 23 per cent improvement in domestic helpers’ knowledge and awareness of sustainable practices in the household.

Al Hosani explained that water scarcity and environmental impacts of overuse of energy and water are a reality in all countries in the region, including the UAE. High population growth coupled with rapid industrialisation calls for sustainable water and energy patterns in residential households, as this sector is responsible for one of the largest water and energy consumptions.

“Due to rising water demand and dwindling supplies, residential water conservation is an urgent need of the hour. Water conservation can not only help in saving water, but will also conserve energy required for desalination, wastewater treatment, and transport of water,” she said.

The official explained that changes in everyday habits can help to reduce home energy bills, lower carbon emissions, and ease pressure on the power grid. Modest behaviour adjustments can, over time, yield substantial energy and water savings on their own. Residential energy demand can be reduced further through structural investments, including upgrades to more energy-efficient appliances and retrofits to existing household equipment.

“We, at DCD, believe that appropriate programmes, such as this Domestic Helpers Training Programme, can promote sustainable changes in behaviour and encourage investments in structural improvements for the entire emirate. Considering the success of the initiative, we look forward to extending the project and support the training of domestic helpers across the Emirate,” Al Hosani added.