Energy Poverty

Energy poverty—the lack of access to modern forms of energy, especially electricity—undermines virtually every aspect of human welfare: clean water, food security, health care, education, job creation, climate justice, and environmental stewardship.  As a result, those who live in rural areas not connected to an electric power grid are severely limited in their ability to improve their lives.

Here are but a few of the consequences of energy poverty:

  • Without sufficient power to pump water for drinking and irrigation, rural communities suffer from high levels of malnutrition and water-borne diseases.
  • Women and girls, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, are frequently exposed to the risk of sexual violence when forced to leave their villages in search of water and firewood.
  • Without electricity, rural clinics have no way to store vaccines or operate modern medical equipment such as x-ray machines or oxygen concentrators. Maternal-child health is severely impacted when there’s no light to deliver babies at night.
  • Families are forced to retreat every evening into homes that are illuminated, if at all, by candles or the dim light of smokey kerosene lanterns.  Children are unable to study at night, and it is difficult for families to engage in productive activities after the sun goes down. Tens of thousands are maimed or killed every year due to fires caused by exploding kerosene lamps.

SELF is committed to eradicating energy poverty by installing solar systems in “last mile” areas.  Every new community that receives electricity will close the gap a little further between the world’s haves and have-nots.


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Since 1990, SELF has completed projects in more than 25 countries and pioneered unique applications of solar power such as for drip irrigation in Benin, health care in Haiti, telemedicine in the Amazon rain forest, online learning in South Africa and microenterprise development in Nigeria.

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