Life without energy

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Imagine ...

... living in the dark, unable to keep warm, turn on a light or boil a kettle


... relying on burning wood or dung to cook, and having to breathe in potentially fatal smoke


... your child living under the shadow of disease because they couldn't have a vital vaccine, due to a lack of refrigeration


This is the stark reality for billions of poor people

Energy access: the facts

  • Almost half the world's population - 2.5 billion people - have no access to decent fuels for cooking
  • 1.5 billion people have no access to electricity
  • In Africa 85% of the population don't have electricity
  • 60% of energy is consumed by just 20% of the world's population

This is a massive problem, one that destroys lives and stops poor people escaping the clutches of poverty.

Territory size shows the proportion of people with electricity supplied to their homes. Copyright 2006 SASI Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan). PDF

Education without energy?

Without energy, people's ability to get a decent education is severely affected
Education is acknowledged as a crucial factor in helping people escape from poverty. In communities without energy children are often forced out of school to help collect cooking materials or earn money.

When they do go to school it has to be in daylight, which restricts their hours especially as many children walk for hours to get there. When they arrive home needing to do their schoolwork, they have no light to study and all that greets them is darkness. Or they have to rely on kerosene to provide precious light, which is both expensive and dangerous; if a lamp is knocked over it can cause serious burns.

Computers, radio or TV lessons are important tools in the modern education. A lack of electricity restricts the opportunity for children to further their education. And teachers don't want to work in communities where there are no lights, little equipment, no TVs, computers or life after dark.

Livelihoods without energy?

Without energy people's ability to earn a living is also severely affected. As with education, life without modern energy is also denying people knowledge. Without electricity there is no access to radios, computers or the internet, this means no access to vital information such as radio programmes about farming techniques, flood warnings or local news.

Lack of energy means people struggle to start a simple business like; sewing, welding, or battery recharging which could be their way permanently out of poverty.

Health without energy?

Without clean, modern energy people's health can be severely affected

One of the greatest energy needs across the world is for cooking, something which we take for granted. Without a decent energy supply, people are forced to rely on biomass - wood or animal dung - for cooking.

Women and children can spend hours every day searching for increasingly scarce resources. They are at risk from wild animals and in some countries, rape. But it doesn't end there, once they start burning biomass, the thick acrid smoke cause's serious lung diseases turning kitchens into death traps. Children and their mothers are most at risk, choking, retching and gasping to get air to their lungs which are being attacked and destroyed by smoke.

More people die from smoke inhalation than malaria. According to the World Health Organisation's , diseases associated with indoor air pollution claim 1.6 million lives every year - that's one person every 20 seconds.

But the situation is not hopeless. Something can be done. There are solutions - simple, sustainable solutions ...

Energy for All – Make Your Point

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