Energy for the poor
Access to basic, clean energy services is essential for sustainable development and poverty eradication, and provides major benefits in the areas of health, literacy and equity. However, over two billion people today have no access to modern energy services.
The issue of energy choice is fundamental to the great challenge facing the world at the beginning of the 21st century - how to eliminate the obscene levels of poverty without further polluting the planet. Practical Action believes that there does not have to be a trade-off between human development and the environment. Millions can be lifted out of poverty without ruining the planet with the help of clean sustainable energy.
Three challenges face the international community if they are to meet the Millennium Development Goals to tackle world poverty:
Energy for cooking: there is an urgent need to address the continuing dependence on biomass for domestic energy, both to reduce the amount of time spent collecting fuel and to improve health. Respiratory infections caused by smoke pollution cause 1.8 million deaths each year.
Getting electricity to the rural poor: electricity is needed to power small industry and enterprise, run health clinics and light schools. Without it, rural poverty will not be eradicated. Decentralised energy options using local resources - such as wind, biogas, solar power or micro-hydro - offer many advantages for meeting the needs of the rural population.
Getting sustainable electricity to the urban poor: increasing numbers of the world's poor people are living in cities, and many are dependent on wood and charcoal for their energy needs. A long-term strategy is needed for a more sustainable supply of energy to poor urban areas as the rural poor continue to migrate to the cities.
If these three challenges are met, then significant progress will have been made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. For this to happen, the World Summit on Sustainable Development had to commit to a plan of action and clear targets to get clean and sustainable energy to world's poorest people.
Small is beautiful: Making decentralised energy a reality 8 May 2006, New York
Smoke in the home from cooking on wood, dung and crop waste kills nearly one million children a year. In its report, Smoke: the Killer in the Kitchen , ITDGPractical Action is calling for global action to save the lives of 1.6 million men, women and children lost each year to lethal levels of household smoke.
- Summary of the report
- Read the report online
- Download the report
- Buy a copy from ITDG Publishing
- Find out more: key questions and answers
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Choose Positive Energy, and ITDGPractical Action's position on taking an environmental and developmental common perspective
- Sustainable Energy for Poverty Reduction
A omprehensive Action Plan which details the steps to be taken at every level in order to provide modern sustainable clean renewable energy to two billion of the world's poorest people. Read a summary
or download as a 933K PDF file
- Powering Poverty Reduction
International policies must consider the needs of the poor and ensure that appropriate, workable and renewable services are promoted.
Read online or download as PDF ~ 344k
- Technical solutions to energy needs must be accessible, affordable and appropriate
- The realities of renewable energy and poverty reduction
- Why energy is fundamental to improving the lives of poor people
- the full ITDGPractical Action briefing paper on energy and poverty reduction
also available as a 100Kb PDF file
- a shorter ITDGPractical Action briefing paper on energy and poverty reduction
also available as a 72Kb PDF file
- an ITDGPractical Action seminar on energy and poverty reduction, 17 July 2002
- ITDGPractical Action Energy at the Earth Summit 2002
- Launch of Sustainable Energy Action Plan
- Asian brown cloud shows the need for action
- Why the WSSD energy agreement is a sham
- Sustainable energy for the world's poor
12 reasons to exclude large hydro from renewables initiatives
A report report co-published by 13 organizations working on climate change, development, and sustainable energy and water management, including ITDGPractical Action, gives a dozen reasons why large hydro should be excluded from global efforts to promote renewable energy.