We need to go much further to deliver for the world’s poorest
Between 1990 and 2010 1.7 billion people gained access to electricity, but this is only slightly ahead of population growth over the same period. To meet the UN’s 100% universal access target by 2030, the pace of expansion will have to double.
Without electricity, women must give birth in the dark and children lose out on life-saving medicines.
A stable supply of electricity is essential to modern medicine. Blood and vaccines can’t be stored or transported without reliable refrigeration. Basic health procedures, such as delivering a baby, become more difficult and dangerous in the dark. Emergency medical equipment, life-saving operations and pre-and post-natal care all depend on electricity. Yet many health clinics in developing countries lack any access to electricity or have it only intermittently.
Cooking and heating with dung and other biomass leads to major health issues and kills an estimated 4 million people a year.
Indoor pollution from biomass-fueled cooking, lighting and heating devices kills an estimated four million people a year, more than AIDS and malaria combined. The smoke also causes a range of chronic illnesses including strokes, lung and heart disease.
In addition, these emissions are important drivers of climate change and local environmental degradation.
Women and girls are hit hardest by energy poverty
Energy poverty severely constrains opportunities for women and girls in developing countries. With so much of the day spent collecting water and fuel for the household, opportunities for paid work or study are limited. Women and girls around the world spend an estimated 40 billion hours a year collecting water, equivalent to the time spent at work each year by the entire French workforce.
Poor lighting also means that public spaces are less safe for women and girls.
Affordable electricity is critical to education – with it schools can be a ladder out of poverty.
About 90 percent of children in Sub-Saharan Africa go to primary schools that lack electricity. 27 percent of village schools in India lack electricity. Fewer than half of Peruvian schools are electrified. The number of children worldwide who attend schools not connected to any type of electricity supply is greater than the populations of Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia or Japan. Lack of electricity means no lighting, photocopying or printing. Teachers have to copy everything by hand, hours of study depend on the seasons. With no TV or internet there is no direct link to the world outside the classroom.