Author: Rupali Khanna
Author Affiliation: Department of Economics, Kamala Nehru College, University of Delhi
Abstract: More than a billion people (mostly rural) all over the world are still living in energy poverty, which is defined as the inability to access and afford modern cooking fuels and the lack of a bare minimum electric lighting to read or for other household and productive activities. To fulfil their energy needs, households use traditional sources of energy, mainly biomass, animal dung and sometimes kerosene. These fuels emit lot of harmful smoke and gases leading to health hazards like chronic heart disease, lung problems, cancers and neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. In this population, women, girls and school-aged children bear most of the brunt as women cook all the meals for the household, with children assisting them with small chores. Another problem is school absenteeism, especially among girls, because of time spent in collecting firewood from jungles. Lack of energy also leads to low productivity, hence keeping these households in the clutches of poverty. Case studies in the present paper shed light on the micro level situation in Asian villages. Hence, it is important to study the extent and causes of energy dearth as well as the implementation of effective, sustainable and affordable solutions, which is the objective of this paper.
Keywords: energy poverty, women health hazards, school absenteeism, rural areas, traditional sources of energy, biomass.