Policy & Advocacy

Energy that transforms

Almost three billion people don’t have clean, safe cooking facilities and close to one billion people lack access to the electricity that could power their progress, improve their health, education and opportunities to earn a better living.

That’s why we’re innovating in clean cooking and renewable off-grid electricity solutions that can help people lift themselves out of poverty.

We’re working with rural communities, displaced people, energy providers and decision makers to harness the transformational power of clean, affordable energy.

Our approach and priorities

Lack of energy access limits people progress, with the biggest negative impacts felt by women, children and other disadvantaged groups (such as refugees or those living in remote areas). While there has been some progress in recent years, in particular resulting in more people gaining access to electricity services, many people continue to be left behind. We aim to ensure that energy access is not only delivered at scale but also includes those that are often hardest to reach.

A key focus of our work is to catalyse off-grid energy access markets, for example through working with energy businesses and entrepreneurs (particularly women), as well as communities. Examples include:

  • Our Global Distributors Collective supports Last Mile Distribution companies to reach underserved customers with life-changing products like solar lights or clean cookstoves.
  • We work to promote productive uses to help communities maximise the economic benefits of gaining energy access, while at the same time ensuring energy supply can remain viable.
  • Our Renewable Energy for Refugees programme (RE4R) brings renewable energy for lighting, cooking and powering tools and appliances, allowing entrepreneurs to flourish and move from reliance on aid to economic independence.

Furthermore, through our technical advisory work, we assist governments to create enabling policy and regulatory frameworks for off-grid energy access. Our flagship publication, the Poor People’s Energy Outlook, provides key recommendations on issues such as inclusivity and finance to international donors and national governments, based on our extensive experience delivering energy access projects and programmes in many country.


In Depth Issues

Poor People's Energy Outlook - New Release

PPEO 2019 is the culmination of five years’ research, exploring what it takes to realise the kinds of energy services that enable people living in energy poverty to thrive. The report compiles and updates key messages and recommendations on energy access planning (PPEO 2016), financing (PPEO 2017) and delivering at scale, while also leaving no one behind (PPEO 2018).

Read the full story

Our key policy objectives


  • The importance of energy access has been recognised through Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7), which calls for ensuring “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” by 2030. However, a recent tracking report noted that the world is not on track to meet this goal. We are calling for an urgent scale-up of inclusive energy access, ensuring that no one is left behind in 2030.
  • In particular, we are advocating for a large increase public and private funding for decentralised energy solutions, recognising that they are often the most-cost effective way to expand electricity access in many cases, especially for remote communities. Funding needs go beyond addressing energy supply to include support for developing productive uses of energy, to ensure energy access is truly transformative and reduces poverty.
  • Also, much more effort is needed to address the clean cooking challenge where there has been very little progress. There is not one simple solution and funding is needed to support a variety of technical options and programmes creating awareness and behaviour change. As much (if not more) attention needs to be given to clean cooking as electricity.
  • We can’t solve the energy access challenge on our own. We therefore collaborate with a range of other organisations to advocate for the achievement of SDG7, for example through the ACCESS coalition of civil society organisations, SEforAll’s People-Centre Accelerator and through are membership of the Alliance for Rural Electrification.


Our key partnerships

Global Distributors Collective

ACCESS Coalition



Latest Documentation

Manual (10 MB)

Civil Works Guidelines for Micro Hydropower in Nepal

A guide to look at the technical aspects including civil works guidelines of designing a micro hydro scheme in Nepal....

Report (425 kB)

The Energy Situation in Goudoubo Refugee Camp, Burkino Faso

This paper, one of a series developed by the MEI consortium partners, has been written and edited by Practical Action Co...

Policy Paper (2 MB)

How Gender Audits can Improve Kenya’s Policy Impacts

The gender audit of energy policies, programmes, institutions and projects in Kenya has helped stakeholders to understan...