Energy Access : Energy Poverty

The problem of energy access or in fact energy poverty lies at the center of human deterioration today, where inspite of rapid developments in clean energy solutions 1.1* billion people still live without access to any form of electricity and 2.7* billion people still cook over open fires. This severe lack of energy access not only undermines health but also inhibits education, limits livelihood opportunities and reduces the overall chances for the poor to rise out of poverty. Clearly reflected in the poor rate of social, economic and environmental progress that nearly one third of the world’s population now represents, energy poverty is also closely interrelated to global warming and climate change as the energy poor continue to use inefficient and polluting forms of biomass and fossil based fuels to fulfil their lighting and cooking needs.

REGION NO ACCESS TO ELECTRICITY NO ACCESS TO CLEAN COOKING FUELS
WORLD 1284 million 2679 million
Africa 622 million 728 million
Developing Asia 620 million (India: 300 million, 25%) 1875 million (India: 815 million, 66%)

Of the world’s total energy poor, 95%* reside in sub-Saharan African and developing Asia, of which 84%* are in rural areas. In Asia, India is the largest affected nation with nearly 300 million people living without access to clean lighting alternatives. (*Source: World Energy Outlook, 2014)

HEALTH

In addition to being a safety hazard, extended periods of exposure to smoke emitted from open fires for cooking and kerosene lamps for lighting cause a wide range of child and adult diseases including acute and chronic respiratory conditions, lung cancer, ischemic heart disease, stroke, cataract and adverse pregnancy outcomes. The WHO estimates that over 4 million people die prematurely every year from illness attributable to the household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels. And more than 50% of these deaths among children under 5 are due to pneumonia caused by particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution.

INCOME

Fuels like kerosene, coal and wood are inefficient and inadequate sources of lighting as they are used sparingly and restrict livelihood activities from continuing after sunset. Not only do these fuels turn out to be relatively expensive sources of lighting, they also inhibit the development of livelihood opportunities beyond daylight hours.

EDUCATION

Fuels like kerosene, coal and wood are inefficient and inadequate sources of lighting as they are used sparingly and restrict livelihood activities from continuing after sunset. Not only do these fuels turn out to be relatively expensive sources of lighting, they also inhibit the development of livelihood opportunities beyond daylight hours.

WOMEN

The lack of access to modern energy puts a significant burden on women in a household. The physical drudgery of walking miles to collect fuel for lighting and cooking leaves them no time to pursue any other form of livelihood or development, restricting their role to meeting the household’s practical needs only.

THE ENVIRONMENT

The inefficient use of solid fuels for cooking and heating is a major source of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) like black carbon that harm human health, agricultural yields and ecosystems and are a major contributing factor in global warming. The unsustainable harvesting of fuel wood also contributes to local forest degradation.

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