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close this bookSustainable Energy News - No. 35 - November 2001 - Theme: Poverty & Energy (INFORSE, 2001, 18 p.)
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View the documentWorking Group of the UK Development Assistance Seeking Dialogue

Working Group of the UK Development Assistance Seeking Dialogue


By Gill Wilkins Energy Adviser to the Department for International Development,UK; and consultant to the Energy and Poverty Working Group.

PV water pump

Photo by IT Power, UK

A Working Group has been set up in the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to undertake a wide-ranging review of how energy, including renewable energy, is considered in the UK’s International Development Programmes for poverty reduction. Energy is being looked at within the framework of the International Development Targets (IDTs) or, more recently, the Millennium Development Goals.

The purpose of this Energy for Poverty Reduction (ENPOV) Working Group is:

· to raise awareness of the role energy can play in achieving the IDTs;

· to get energy back into the development as possibly a theme rather than a sector;

· to help develop an understanding of the link between energy and poverty reduction; and

· to raise awareness of the link among both energy and non-energy experts.

Solar foldable cooker used in refugee camps in Rwanda.

Photo: Solar Cookers International (SCI).

The Group has representatives from different interests within DFID to be sure to take on different perspectives. An external Advisory Group will be set up to provide comment and feedback. The Advisory Group will include representatives from other UK Government Departments, regional DFID offices and other relevant organisations (multilaterals, bilaterals, NGOs, companies and foundations). Wider consultation with the public will also be possible via the DFID Energy Knowledge and Research (KaR) website (see at the end of the article). It is hoped that the findings of the working group will be produced in the form of a guidance note in early 2002.

The Working Group aims to:

· have a primary focus on poverty reduction;
· cover both macro- and micro-level issues;
· cover issues related to rural urban and peri-urban areas;
· look at sustainable livelihoods through and energy lens;
· be people centred, demand-led, and pro-poor.

Questions to be Answered

It is clear that there are many questions to be answered with regard to the links between energy and poverty reduction. For example:

· Is energy important for the poor?

· What is the impact of energy access on education, health, urban migration, empowerment, drudgery, vulnerability, enterprise development, and job creation?

· Can economic growth be stimulated with energy provision while managing the environment sustainably?

· How can energy policies be integrated into development plans most effectively?

Some of these questions are starting to be answered, while others need further research and understanding.

Matrix Drafted

Towards starting to understand the role of energy in achieving the IDTs, a draft matrix has been drawn up which begins to show the links of which we are aware (see figure). This matrix needs further development; we welcome your thoughts and comments on how we can more fully describe the links that exist.

Looking for Case Studies

We are also looking for case studies and examples to illustrate the role that energy can play in helping to achieve development goals in different sectors.

If you know of any examples where energy has played an important role in helping to achieve development goals, or where the lack of consideration for clean, reliable, sustainable, and affordable energy has been detrimental to development, we would also like to hear from you.


Biogas used for cooking, and lighting in India.

Biogas used for cooking, and lighting in India.

Photos by AFPRO.

Comments and more information: Gill Wilkins, Principal Consultant AEA Technology Environment, ETSU, Building 154, Harwell, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 OQJ, UK. Ph: +44 (0) 1235 433128 Fax: +44 (0) 1235 432331 e-mail:, where draft papers will be posted for comment.

Energy FOR Poverty Reduction. Draft Matrix: Energy and the International Development Targets:




Directly contributes

Indirectly contributes

A reduction by one half in the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by the year 2015

· Modern energy supplies are necessary for economic growth
· Clean, efficient fuels reduce the large share of household income spent on cooking, lighting and keeping warm

· Access to reliable energy services enables enterprise development
· Lighting permits income generation beyond daylight hours
· Increased productivity from being able to use machinery

· Employment creation in local energy service provision and maintenance, fuel crops, etc.

Universal primary education in all countries by 2015

· Availability of modern energy services frees girl’s time from helping with survival tasks (gathering firewood, fetching water)

· Good quality lighting permits home study
· Electricity in schools allows evening classes and helps retain teachers, especially if their accommodation has electricity.
· Electricity enables access to educational media and communications in schools and at home, which increase education opportunities and allow distance learning.

· Energy can help create a more child friendly environment (access to clean water, sanitation, lighting and space heating/cooling), thus improving attendance at school and reducing drop out rates.
· Access to electricity provides the opportunity to use electrical equipment for teaching e.g., overhead projector, computer, printer, copier

Demonstrated progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women by eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005

· Availability of modern energy services frees young women’s time from survival activities (fuel gathering, cooking inefficiently, fetching water, crop processing by hand, manual farming work)

· Good quality lighting permits home study
· Electricity in schools allows evening classes and helps retain teachers especially if their accommodation has electricity.
· Electricity enables access to educational media and communications in schools and at home, which increases educational opportunities and allows distance learning.

· Reliable energy services offer scope for women’s enterprises
· Street lighting improves women’s safety

A reduction by two-thirds in the mortality rates for infants and children under age 5 and a reduction by three-fourths in maternal mortality - all by 2015

· Indoor air pollution from traditional fuels causes significant numbers of premature deaths amongst children and mothers

· Gathering and preparing traditional fuels exposes women and children to health risks and reduces time spent on childcare
· Modern energy safer (less house fires)

· Electricity enables pumped clean water and purification
· Latrines for biogas production improve sanitation

Access through the primary healthcare system to reproductive health services for all individuals of appropriate ages as soon as possible and no later than 2015

· Electricity in health centres enables night availability, helps retain qualified staff and allows equipment use (e.g., sterilisation, medicine refrigeration)

· Electricity enables access to health education media

The implementation of national strategies for sustainable development by 2005, so as to reverse current trends in the loss of environmental resources at both global and national levels by 2015

· Traditional fuel use contributes to erosion, reduced soil fertility and desertification. Can become more sustainable through substitution, improved efficiency and energy crops
· Using cleaner, more efficient fuels reduce GHG emissions

· Mitigate increased pollution as economy grows with cleaner fuels and energy efficiency
· Increased agricultural productivity from being able to use machinery

· National sustainability aided by greater use of indigenous renewable energy sources instead of imported fossil fuels as economy grows
· Rural energy services enable non-farm based enterprise and processing of non-timber forest products