Current levels of energy services fail to meet the needs of the poor. Some 2 billion people worldwide rely on traditional biomass fuels for cooking, while 1.6 billion others do not have access to electricity, a situation which entrenches poverty, constrains the delivery of social services, limits opportunities for women and girls, and erodes environmental sustainability at the local, national and global levels.
Much greater access to energy services will be essential to achieve all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The costing and delivery of these services must be linked to national development strategies, Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS) and MDG campaigns to enable countries meet the MDGs. At its 14th session in May 2006, the Commission for Sustainable Development will examine how energy can be used for sustainable development.
Indeed, as UN-HABITAT Executive Director Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka has noted, energy has long been recognized to be essential in meeting basic human needs, in stimulating and supporting economic growth and in enhancing the quality of life in human settlements. Increased energy use means increased ability to produce the necessities of life such as food, shelter, clothing, communications and health care. It is agreed that developing countries must raise their outputs to a level which will provide an acceptable standard of living for everybody in the world.
The energy sector’s links with other sectors are crucial for the economic growth that is crucial to sustained poverty reduction. Widening access to energy services for the poor is a means of supporting overall development through income and employment generation, as well as for social benefits. Access to energy services is therefore an essential means to support overall development, rather than an end to itself. In part due to poor infrastructure and prohibitively high up-front costs, the poor often face much higher energy costs than the non-poor. This is compounded by the limited access to appropriate financing schemes that can allow the poor to overcome the high up-front costs of cleaner energy devices and appliances.
Other important energy challenges facing the poor include low incomes that are not sufficient for the procurement of energy services to meet basic needs such as sufficient energy to cook food, provide affordable transport, power pumps for potable water, sterilize medical equipment and provide space heating.
The overall goal of the proposed energy scale-up initiative is to facilitate access to modern energy services for the urban poor while reducing the incidents of harmful indoor air pollution within informal settlements in sub-Saharan Africa through policy change, development of regulatory instruments and pilot demonstrations.
Energy Access for Urban Poor