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Poor People’s Energy Outlook

The Poor People’s Energy Outlook series (PPEO) was launched in 2010 to shine a light on energy access from the perspectives of the poor. The series challenges the energy sector’s focus on energy resources, supply and large scale infrastructure projects; emphasising instead that it is energy services which matter most to poor people, and that decentralised approaches are the best way to achieve universal energy access.

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By drawing on the realities of energy-poor people, the PPEO series has been hugely influential in re-framing the energy access narrative. As a result of the PPEO’s awareness-raising of energy poverty and access issues, Practical Action co-designed the SEforAll Global Tracking Framework which is now the global standard in measuring levels of energy access.

“By focussing on the most vulnerable, often considered the last mile, first and by being inclusive, especially of women’s leadership, PPEO 2018 supports the SEforALL movement to go further, faster together and to make sustainable energy for all a reality”

– Rachel Kyte, former CEO and Special Representative to the UN-Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All

2019 – Enabling energy access: from village to nation.

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). It draws on primary research from community consultations in Bangladesh, Kenya and Togo, as well as analysis of energy access programmes across Latin America, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa; considering how to ramp up energy access from small-scale interventions to national and global levels, to ensure that, with just a decade to go until our SDG7 deadline, the transformational power of energy is universally enjoyed.

This report was funded with UK aid from the British people.

Recommendations include:-


For international donors and International Financial Institutions:

  • Commit to allocating rising shares of funding to off-grid solutions and clean cooking, including for the provision of well-targeted subsidies.
  • Shift financier evaluation and reward metrics to reflect inclusivity and development impacts in addition to, or rather than, deal size.
  • Design programmes that proactively focus on reaching the ‘last mile’, ensuring these have sufficient resourcing and skilled staff.

For national governments:

  • Develop energy plans that address grid, off-grid, and clean cooking together and look for the synergies and interconnections between them.
  • Practice holistic planning which listens to the priorities of the energy-poor and works across ministries and sectors of the economy to deliver the energy services people need.
  • Adopt gender mainstreaming in planning and delivery mechanisms to ensure that the issues women prioritize and the barriers to their engagement are addressed.

For private sector companies and investors:

  • Partner with development organizations to jointly develop demand-side approaches and gender mainstreaming.
  • Invest in building the skills and experience of energy SMEs and future leaders, including supporting and empowering women.
  • Provide funding for market activation campaigns and partnerships in energy-poor countries.

For civil society organizations:

  • Partner with governments and the private sector to ensure energy access programmes focus on pro-poor development outcomes.
  • Continue to engage with energy-poor communities and enable the meaningful inclusion of their voices in national and international energy access debates.
  • Maintain pressure on donors and MFIs to scale-up financing for off-grid and clean cooking solutions.

Latest Report Downloads

Poor People's Energy Outlook 2019 - Enabling Energy Access: from Village to Nation

Considering both clean cooking and electricity, PPEO 2019 draws on a range of case study programmes and community-driven...

Poor People's Energy Outlook 2019 infographics

PPEO 2019 is a compilation and update of the previous three editions of the PPEO series, on energy access planning (2016...

Poor People's Energy Outlook 2019 summary document

Considering both clean cooking and electricity, PPEO 2019 draws on a range of case study programmes and community-driven...

2018 – Inclusive Energy Access

PPEO 2018 considers how access to energy can be accelerated to achieve both the scale required to meet our global 2030 goals, and the inclusivity required to leave no-one behind. The report looks at case studies from clean cooking, decentralised electricity and grid-extension programmes across Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa to explore processes that have been tried, the results these have achieved and how these could help to inform future programming.


  • Tackle key aspects of inclusivity deliverately from the very beginning, to achieve universal energy access. This includes sufficient finance, experienced staffing, and tailored processes.
  • Embrace inclusivity as a driver of success, not an afterthought or add-on. From the outset, programme metrics should reflect aspects of remoteness, poverty and gender.
  • Decentralize key elements of decision-making to encourage inclusivity and increase local ownership, through working with local-level implementing partners.
  • Address gender inequality to benefit people and businesses, as some clean cooking and off-grid electricity programmes in particular have demonstrated.
  • Confront barriers to scale through a meaningful and iterative assessment of the supply, demand, finance and policy shortcomings and opportunities.
  • Acknowledge the critical role for public finance, particularly in delivering energy access to the most marginalised; to whom private sector, market-based interventions traditionally will not reach.



FULL REPORT    English  |  French  |  Spanish     SUMMARY   English  |  French  |  Spanish    INFOGRAPHIC    English

This report was funded with UK aid from the British people.

2017 – Financing National Energy Access: A Bottom Up Approach

The 2017 edition of the Poor People’s Energy Outlook (PPEO) considers how to best finance national integrated energy access plans for Bangladesh, Kenya and Togo based on the PPEO 2016 analysis. The report looks at the mix of technologies and funding required to achieve national and global energy access goals; and the roles of civil society and the private and public sectors in making this a reality.



  • increase national financing directed towards clean cooking, based on communities’ preferences for clean cooking fuels and technologies
  • Address energy for productive and community uses in National financing strategies as urgently as household needs. This can account for a substantial part of the costs of provision.
  • Shift financier evaluation and reward metrics, and create greater leadership commitment to the energy access sector including through a key role for public finance;
  • Actively promote gender equity in energy access finance systems, which is critical for more sustained, appropriate and equitable solutions for all.


FULL REPORT    English  |  French  |  Spanish   SUMMARY   English  |  French  |  Spanish  INFOGRAPHIC   English

This report was funded with UK aid from the British people as well as funding from the Charles Stuart Mott Foundation and GIZ.

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2016 – Integrating Community Energy Access Priorities into National Plans

Building on the Total Energy Access Framework put forth in PPEOs 2010-14, the 2016 edition explores energy access planning from the perspectives of poor people. It uses case study evidence from communities across three contrasting countries – Bangladesh, Kenya and Togo – to unpick what it means to plan for energy access from the bottom up, basing those plans on the energy needs and priorities expressed by people living in energy poverty.



  • Embrace decentralized technologies which are cheaper and faster to implement, but require different financing models to grid-based systems;
  • Prioritize cooking as on par with electricity access, recognizing its essential role in achieving development aims particularly for women and children;
  • Recognize the differentiated energy access requirements of women and men, and mainstream women’s priorities in energy access plans at the national level; and
  • Measure energy access holistically in terms of longer-term development goals such as numbers of jobs created, agricultural productivity increased and children educated.


FULL REPORT    English FrenchSpanish    SUMMARY    English  |  French  |  Spanish       INFOGRAPHICS    English

This report was funded with UK aid from the British people as well as funding from the Charles Stuart Mott Foundation and GIZ.

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2014 – Integrating Community Energy Access Priorities into National Plans

The 2014 edition of the PPEO reflects on three years of analysis (PPEOs 2010-13) to highlight the vital enabling role that energy plays in lifting people out of poverty; moving beyond energy sole for household uses to consider its importance for community services and productive uses.



FULL REPORT    English  |  Arabic  |  French  |  Spanish


2013 – Energy for Community Services

PPEO 2013 considers just how essential access to energy is for community facilities. From street lighting to electricity for ICTs in schools, from running health clinics to powering religious buildings, energy access for communal benefit is essential to enable people to live the sorts of lives that they value.


  • Recognise that modern and sustainable energy access is a pre-requisite for other development goals across health, education and wider infrastructure. Without energy, international development goals will not be achieved.
  • Acknowledge a service-based, rather than supply-based, approach to energy policy and delivery as the best way to measure progress.
  • Increase financing for decentralised solutions and national plans and encourage donors, multilaterals and the private sector to embrace appropriate decentralised energy access technologies.


FULL REPORT    English    SUMMARY    English

This report was funded by GIZ.



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2012 – Energy for Earning a Living

PPEO 2012 explores the productive uses of energy which are vital to improved livelihoods and broader human development. From electricity for powering village kiosks to energy for irrigation, milling and threshing, energy access for livelihoods increases productivity, reduces women’s burdens and positively impacts human wellbeing. It can also be key to strengthening communities’ resilience to climate shocks.


  • Prioritise the reliability, quality, and affordability of energy supplies as critical success factors to enterprises. Energy access alone does not guarantee an improved livelihood.
  • Set national targets for universal energy access by 2030 and formulate and implement plans to deliver these targets, recognising the Total Energy Accessminimum standards.
  • Raise awareness of the benefits of energy access with civil society and the private sector having an important role to play in this; while particularly targeting base-of-the-pyramid markets with activities and investment.


FULL REPORT    English  |  Spanish    INFOGRAPHIC    English

This report was funded by GIZ and UNDP.

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2010 – Total Energy Access

PPEO 2010 urges the energy sector to embrace the concept of ‘Total Energy Access’ which explores energy access not just for households but for community facilities and enterprises. Energy access has transformative potential for economic development and human welfare and without it, the ability to stay healthy, connected and earn a living is severely compromised.


  • Measure energy access holistically, in terms of the Total Energy Access services that poor people require, rather than simply recording megawatts supplied and numbers of households connected.
  • Enable multi-stakeholder processes, with governments, civil society and private organisations working together as part of an Energy Access Ecosystem to achieve collective goals.
  • Prioritise development of local institutions for the delivery, operation and maintenance of energy services


FULL REPORT    English

This report was funded by UNDP.