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SEI presents work on the Energy for All 2030 initiative, a cross-European project to raise the profile of energy access as a key part of achieving the Millennium Development Goals in sub-Saharan Africa.
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In large parts of Africa, four in five families depend on biomass for all their energy needs – from cooking, to lighting and heat. It’s rough on the people, especially the women who spend hours each day collecting firewood and then cooking over smoky, inefficient stoves. Over time, breathing polluted air leads to eye infections, emphysema, and cancer.
It’s also devastating to the land, which is already stressed by excessive logging. Deforestation, in turn, intensifies the effects of climate change, including the impacts from severe storms.
As part of the launch of the UNEP/GEF en.lighten initiative, SEI research associate Patricia Vilchis Tella presented her work on the Energy for All 2030 initiative, a cross-European project which aims to raise the public and political profile of energy access for achieving the Millennium Development Goals in sub-Saharan Africa.
“For more than 30 years, projects have tried to bring more energy to the homes of the poor, but we still don’t have a solution we can scale up to meet everyone’s needs,” she says. “In the meantime, the problem is getting worse.”
Thinking small to reach remote areas
Energy for All 2030 builds on work already being sponsored by the European Union, focusing on programmes that can serve isolated rural areas and that are smaller in scale – because not all areas can be feasibly connected to the electrical grid.
The programme is funded by an EC Public Awareness grant. Project partners will gather field evidence and write technical and policy briefs, articles and papers on the importance of energy access, the funding gap on energy access for the poor, and the current performance of the Africa-EU Partnership funds.
Energy access is also essential for development, and to lift people out of poverty. Based on her field work in Africa, Tella believes long-term solutions could involve generating electricity from renewable sources such as solar power and hydropower during the rainy season.
But right now, she says, “we can make the biggest difference by getting them better, more efficient stoves, and reducing the amount of smoke that people inhale.”