What can we do to help end poverty around the world? A crucial step for billions of people is access to energy.
Every week, more than a million children are born into the world to feed, clothe and shelter. And the greatest growth in population comes from many of the least developed nations. Today, in this rapidly expanding world, 1.3 billion people still have no access to electricity, and nearly one in six people around the world lack access to clean and safe drinking water. More than 2.7 billion people still rely on biomass, like wood and dung, for cooking.
Energy is crucial to lift people from a life of hardship and poverty. It powers schools, businesses, and hospitals, takes us to work, helps irrigate our crops, refrigerates our food, heats and cools our homes, manufactures the essential things we use every day, cleans our water, drives our economies. When we have energy, we tend to take it for granted. When we lose it for an hour, it’s an inconvenience, a day and it’s a big problem, a week and it’s chaos. When people don’t have access to energy to begin with, the challenge to move up from a life of poverty is all consuming.
Traditionally, much of the resource, service provision, investment and technology to address energy poverty is driven by government policy / funding and corporate, institutional and financial sector investment. Initiatives following COP21 may over time help bring greater focus and funds at a national and regional scale to those in greatest need of access to energy. But as individuals we can each make our own contribution. Last year at this time I provided a list of non-profit and charitable organizations all helping end energy poverty at a variety of scales. Many of you contributed with funds and your own time and energy to these organizations and for that my thanks. I’ve updated the list for 2016 based on your suggestions. The list is certainly not all inclusive nor intended to be a specific endorsement but is a good and efficient starting point. I hope you find it useful and welcome your additions, critiques and ideas. Thanks in advance for your help.
Select Non-profit Organizations, Foundations, Funds and Agencies Addressing Energy Poverty:
Energy for All
Engineers without Borders
Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves
Pritzker Innovation Fund
Solar Electric Light Fund
Unite to Light
United Nations Foundation
Photo Credit: Energy Poverty and Development/shutterstock