The Challenges

Energy Poverty

Ugandan woman spend many hours each day gathering firewood just to prepare their meals.

Ugandan women spend many hours each day gathering firewood just to prepare their meals.

Energy Poverty can be defined as the lack of adequate modern energy for the basic needs of cooking, warmth, and lighting. According to PowerMundo, "over three billion people worldwide do not have access to appropriate technology to meet their basic needs for simple activities such as cooking meals, lighting homes, or purifying water. As a result, billions of people suffer from energy poverty, preventable illnesses, and deplorable living conditions."

This lack of basic modern energy creates an array of economic, environmental, human health, and human rights issues. Some startling facts paint a clearer picture:

  • Around the world, 1.4 billion people have no access to electricity. Of these people, 85% live in rural areas, what is often referred to as "the last mile."
  • In Central America alone, 7.3 million people lack access to grid electricity.
  • A staggering 2.9 billion people around the world use biomass, such as wood or dung, as their primary source of cooking and heating fuel.
  • 1.9 million people die from the adverse effects of indoor air pollution each year, or one person every 20 seconds.
  • Black carbon (particulates from smoke) is the second major contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Women and girls can spend up to 20 hours per week gathering fuel, often risking their safety and keeping them away from other economic pursuits.
  • Deforestation caused by the continuous collection of firewood for cooking fuel is a major contributor to a decline in biodiversity and tree canopy in the developing world.