Energy is essential to meeting basic human needs: food, running water, heat, light and transport. Poor access to energy impacts on quality of life, educational chances, economic production and healthcare provision.
According to the International Energy Agency, 1.5 billion people around the world lack access to electricity – 85% of them in rural areas. 2.7 billion people rely on traditional use of biomass, and that number is expected to rise to 2.8 billion by 2030.
Using biomass in inefficient stoves causes household air pollution, which leads to 1.45 million premature deaths each year. This figure is set to overtake those for premature deaths from malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids.
Poor access to energy is a huge barrier to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2015.
To meet the goal, another 395 million people need access to electricity and an additional 1 billion clean cooking facilities. To ensure access to electricity is universal by 2030, $700 billion needs to be invested. In many developing countries, the public sector can’t meet that challenge. This is why GVEP works with those businesses who can deliver long lasting access to clean and affordable energy in rural communities, where the large utilities simply don’t reach.
In recognition of the importance of energy access for sustainable economic development and supporting achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations General Assembly designated 2012 as the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All. This initiative calls for private sector and national commitments and attract global attention to the importance of energy for development and poverty alleviation. The goal is to meet three objectives by 2030:
- Ensuring universal access to modern energy services.
- Doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
- Doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
GVEP is supporting various initiatives to achieve universal energy access by 2030.
Eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were designed in 2000 to eradicate extreme poverty in 2015. Energy can contribute to the achievement of many of these goals. Here is how:
Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
- Household lighting extends the productive work day.
- Electricity facilitates the establishment of village-based micro-enterprises.
- Energy for irrigation increases food production and access to nutrition.
- Better cooking technologies reduce the time spent collecting firewood.
- Local power makes charging mobile phones cheaper and less time consuming.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
- Household lighting enables children to read and study at night.
- Energy services reduce time spent by school-going children on basic survival activities, such as fetching water and firewood.
- Electricity enables the use of educational media, computers, and Internet access at schools.
- Efficient cooking equipment releases cash for books that would otherwise be spent on charcoal and firewood.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
- Modern energy services free women from extreme household drudgery, increase their employment opportunities, and allow them to participate more fully in community activities.
- Energy access reduces girls’ burden to collect water and fuel, increasing their school enrolment.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
- Energy is a prerequisite for a functional health system, contributing, for example, to lighting operating theatres, refrigerating vaccines, sterilizing equipment, and providing communications.
- Energy for water pumping and purification greatly reduces the risk of water borne diseases.
- Energy increases efficiency of midwives and other community-based health workers
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
- Besides its centrality to the healthcare system, modern energy can lower maternal mortality by reducing the level of indoor air pollution, which kills 1.6 million people every year.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
- Modern energy services for power and communications in rural clinics and hospitals enable a quantum leap in health services.
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
- Access to renewable energy technologies helps to preserve natural resources and lowers emissions, which helps protect the local and global environment.
- Reduction in biomass demand through improved cookstoves and other energy efficiency measures can reduce the rate of deforestation.
Goal 8: Build a global partnership for development
- Electricity is necessary to power information and communications applications.