Energy for all – part 1

January 18th, 2011

As petrol prices head towards record highs at the pumps once more and we hear on the radio news that yet another electricity utility has announced a 10% increase in its charges this winter, there are reasons enough for one’s thoughts to turn to energy. But for more than half the world’s population it’s not price rises but lack of access to any modern form of energy at all that is the most pressing problem. 3 billion people are still cooking over open fires (the smoke from which kills more people each year than malaria) and more than 1.5 billion lack any form of connection to an electricity supply.

Practical Action has more than 30 years of experience helping poor communities in the developing world get connected up to electricity supplies, install clean and efficient cooking stoves and access the different forms of mechanical power so necessary for creating work places, jobs and livelihoods.

On the energy front, last year has been an interesting time for us with 5 promising new energy initiatives started up across the Group:

Following on from a reception hosted on our behalf at Clarence House in February by Prince Charles, our patron, we formed a group called POWERFUL, made up of energy companies  and finance institutions interested in energy access in the developing world. We are hoping, with the POWERFUL group, to develop a new and different approach to tackling energy poverty in the developing world. The energy sector is fractured and traditional projects are usually based on a specific technology such as solar power or a specific function (e.g. energy for cooking). In practice this can mean that a poor family can end up with electric light but still cooking over an open fire in a smoke filled kitchen (or cooking on a clean stove in the dark). We want to instead  find a way to ensure poor people’s total energy needs (e.g. for lighting, heating, cooking, cooling as well as mechanical power) are met.

See part 2 of my blog here…

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2 responses to “Energy for all – part 1”


    Bravo, many communities her in Africa are affected by direct smoke from their poor enery use, this is causing killing of older people in regions of Shinyanga, Mwanza etc, in Tanzania. This people who most are women have red eyes as a results of use fire wood and cowdung for their cooking. When the members of their communities saw them like that they say they are witchcraft the kill them. We should do something to safe them.

  2. Simon Trace Says:

    We agree absolutely with Gabriel. Smoke in kitchens kills more people every year than malaria. Access to improved cookstoves that either burn cleaner or remove the smoke via a chimney and hood is all that is necessary to deal with this however. Practical Action has several programmes itslef promoting improved cookstoves in countries such as Kenya, Sudan and Nepal to this end. We also work on looking at alternative clean buring fuels, such as ethanol.

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