Showing posts with label Gender. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gender. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Solving Rural Electrification Problems: New Wine in Old Bottles?

Strong institutions, favorable financing, clear service territories, encouraging productive uses, reducing drudgery for women, and local involvement.  Do these all sound like familiar prescriptions for successful rural electrification?

Rural Electrification Administration Advertisement
Source: NRECA
In fact they encompass some of the eight steps to successful rural electrification highlighted in a previous blog. Recently I was doing a bit of research on the United States Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and I came across some interesting quotes that illustrate many of these points—some from the 1930s no less.

Before plunging into the quotes, some salient facts for those that do not live in the US—or for those living in urban areas in the US! The United States beginning in the 1930s began implementing a new rural electrification program as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal that was based on a newly created government agency called the Rural Electrification Administration. This government agency was created not to carry out rural electrification projects, but to support their implementation through electricity distribution companies called rural electric cooperatives. These cooperatives were and still are private, independent electric utilities anchored firmly in the communities that they serve. Today there are more than 900 electric cooperatives in the United States providing reliable electricity service to 42 million Americans while maintaining a unique consumer-focused approach to business. For more facts see US Utility Fact Sheet published by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

With this background, it is now time for the quotes which have been paraphrased to provide a better context for understanding them.  

See much more below the break....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Comparative Cooking Costs in Developing Countries

By Douglas Barnes and Keith Openshaw

Kerosene Lamps and Stoves, Hyderabad, India by D. Barnes
Recently we have just reviewed many of programs for improved stoves in developing countries, and we were quite surprised to find that there were few analyses of comparative cooking costs. In the glory days of country energy assessments comparing the cost of cooking to enlighten energy policy makers was very common. Today we stress energy efficiency, combustion, emissions, and carbon. However, if people are going to adopt these stoves the comparative cooking costs are an obvious important place to start. Keith Openshaw who has extensive experience with improved stoves is a coauthor of this posting. 

To revive this lost art, we will explain the steps for calculating comparative cooking. The first step is to assemble the necessary data. This includes:

  • Cost of the stove;
  • Lifetime of the stove;
  • Efficiency of the stove;
  • Price of fuels used burned by the stove including wood or other biomass fuels;
  • Fuel collection hours for biomass fuels;
  • Quantity of fuel consumed in the household per month; and
  • Average wage of agricultural workers.
One caveat is that the comparative costs in this analysis are hypothetical because they assume that families cook exclusively with one fuel. Also, we use world market prices and average fuel consumption levels as defined by many different household energy surveys. Thus, these figures can be considered as typical but they do not relate to any one country due to various policies to tax and subsidize household fuels. They at least give us some perspective on the comparative costs of cooking in developing countries.

For much more continue below....

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Facing Rural Energy Realities in Bangladesh

Adult Literacy Class, Bangladesh by Shehzad Noorani
People often forget that once Bangladesh was close to being the poorest country on the planet. Things certainly have changed in recent years. Bangladesh has always had policies for open trade that have helped the country become an exporter of manufactured goods, much of which has resulted from allowing investments by multinational firms.  Generally economic growth has been very positive in recent years.

The country also has a very ambitious and successful grid rural electrification program that was modeled after the USA rural electric cooperatives which is considered a “best practice.” Even for those rural households distant from the electricity grid, since 2002 there has been a very successful rural energy fund that is administered by a government bank. This fund along with prominent non-governmental organizations such as Grameen Shakti (part of Grameen Bank) and BRAC have been very active in promoting solar household systems for basic electric lighting and communications services for those out of reach from the grid electricity system. In recent years they also have been expanding to other rural energy technologies such as biogas and improved cookstoves.

Much more below....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Gender, Energy and Development

Energy is often thought of as poles, wires, and transmission lines. However, the only reason for this infrastructure exists is that they provide some sort of service to industry, businesses, and households. The same can be said for gas pipelines, large storage tanks for liquid petroleum gas and other types of energy. People, businesses, and other organizations pay for all of these energy services. That is the only reason that they exist at all.

Fuelwood Collection Hyderabad India Credit D Barnes
Fuelwood Collection S. India by  D Barnes
So it is somewhat surprising that gender is often overlooked in the provision of energy services in developing counries. Electricity certainly has an impact on women and girls in developing countries through making the home environment more livable, encouraging girls to attend school, and reducing household drudgery. Rural electrification and electricity access now is recognized as a significant priority in many developing countries, especially those in S. Asia and Africa. But while attention often is paid to the wires and poles, is there enough attention to appliances operated by women including fans, small refrigerators, spice grinders, rice cookers, toasters, and others?

Also somewhat overlooked in the energy development business is that women and girls also can be the main suppliers of household energy in developing countries. There have been numerous studies documenting that woman and to a lesser extent men spend much time collecting most of their cooking fuels from the local environment. This fuel collection is time consuming and diverts time from both income earning or other household activities. In addition, the literature on the adverse health impacts of indoor air pollution resulting from burning biomass fuels on open fires or low quality stoves has become very well documented during the last 20 years. Finally, cooking fuels in developing countries contribute about 1 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year, and yet there is barely a mention of household fuels in the climate change debate.

See more below the break.