On the erroneous belief of understanding the arrival point of development

Are “developed countries” deluding others or themselves?

Ryan Murphy (2010): Eat Pray Love

Diligent students of Economics might wonder what a scene from a Julia Roberts movie and the Italian expression “dolce far niente” have to do with development. Having been an Economics student myself confronted with heavy loads of neoclassical and neoliberalism theory, I would like to shed some light on the coherence of the aforementioned from a new point of view.

When researching definitions of “development”, one encounters numerous versions with rather diverse quintessences. For the purpose of this blog post I would like to concentrate on the following interpretation by the G8 of development as “… a strong, dynamic, open and growing global economy“. This choice is not one taken out of agreement, but one that tries to focus on the pivotal assertion that still drives the development discussion today. It is a discussion that is dominated by only a few parties, namely the Western nations 1, and it is directed if not to a single pathway of development at least to a single arrival point: consumerism. Post-development thinkers, such as Wolfgang Sachs, refer to the 1949 inauguration speech of Harry S. Truman, 33rd President of the United States, as the corner stone of the first world hegemony in development. In this inauguration speech Truman proclaimed:

“[…] we must embark on a bold new program […] for the improvement and growth of underdeveloped areas. […] Their economic life is primitive and stagnant. […] Greater production is the key to prosperity and peace.”

By coining the term “underdeveloped areas”, Truman constructed a hierarchical system that imposed a materialistic Western lifestyle, an “American World Dream”, as the ultimate goal of development on the rest of the world. On the verge of the Cold War, it was a strategic move to demand allegiance of the decolonizing countries of the third world to the first world reinforcing its supremacy against the communist-socialist bloc. US economist W.W. Rostow argued in his 1960 “The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto” that with the right development assistance of capital and technology all countries would eventually converge to the ultimate stage of development, “high mass consumption”, from which the USA had already emerged from.

Largely concealing the fact that this prevailing notion of development is socially constructed and is an ideological concept generating power for the first world, it has found its way into the syllabi of leading universities in the form of varying development theories and it has successfully been perpetuated from there on. As a response to the failure of “improving the life of the masses”, development policies shifted repeatedly during the last 60 years: from growth orientation over poverty alleviation towards the aggressive neo-liberal policies of the Washington Consensus 2 implemented by the Structural Adjustment Programmes by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the 1980s, when debt levels and aid-dependency spiked (Moyo, 2010, p. 20-21).

Despite the failure to advance development, it “… had achieved the status of a certainty in the social imaginary” (Escobar,1995, p.5) in such a way that even the opponents of capitalism looked for alternative ways to develop, rather than questioning the construct of development and its arrival point itself. This mistake is equally reflected in the different ways and the evolution of how development has been measured ranging from purely economic indices that depict economic growth (e.g. gross national income per capita, gross domestic product) or defining the percentage of people living below the poverty line 3 to multidimensional indicators of human development such as the New Human Development Index (2010) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The latter include factors such as life expectancy, birth rates, literacy, years of schooling and income, which again play into the hands of the already known development front runners. Despite the creation of hierarchies and the homogenisation of “under-developed countries”, I believe that the biggest mistake herein lies in the assumption to know the arrival point of development, which in turn leaves little necessity, but also little freedom for the front runners to change.

From a Western perspective, what assures us in the end that we objectively chose the right path to development? Based on national footprint data from the Global Footprint Network, Tim De Chant calculated that at least 4.1 worlds would be needed in order for 7 billion people to live an average American lifestyle 4. Luckily we only have one world. So, if the development myth of the last 60 years neither has worked nor has been proven to be a realistic vision for the entire world at all, has it brought any good for the countries that reached the “top of the ladder”?

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 23.06.47

Source: Illustration © 2012 Tim De Chant, Data from Global Footprint Network

Aristotle firstly described that happiness (eudaimonia 5) is the ultimate end for all human activities and all activities are therefore only means to pursuing happiness, not ends in themselves. It is enticing to assume that if there could possibly be a universal goal for development, it could only be the pursuit of happiness. Despite the fact that the Unites States had already recognised precisely this as an inalienable right in their Declaration of Independence in 1776, it took over 200 years for happiness to take center stage in the broader discourse about development. In 2006, the New Economics Foundation introduced the Happy Planet Index (HPI), which measures “the extent to which countries deliver long, happy, sustainable lives for the people that live in them”. Four years later, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network followed with the first World Happiness Report (2012). Attempting to measure happiness on a global scale, six factors are being used: GDP per capita, healthy years of life expectancy, social support, trust, perceived freedom to make life decisions, and generosity. Critics of the past approaches to development might favour this new course and feel vindicated by the fact that the report highlighted the circumstance that “despite strong economic growth” happiness had stagnated in the USA since the 1950s (Helliwell & Layard & Sachs, 2012, p.61). It would be hypocritical, however, to incautiously declare happiness as the new panacea for development and it might result in making the same mistake this post is trying to highlight in the first place. The following should explain how the newest debate of development is still caught up in its initial mistake.

Screen Shot 2016-01-11 at 02.58.45

Source: Happy Planet Index, Map for Experienced Well-Being 6

The initial development debate described high mass consumption as the arrival point of development and with it a set of policies was created by first world countries that allowed for interventions in “poorer countries” that were seldom altruistic. In contrast, the theoretical beauty of defining happiness as the ultimate arrival point of development is that happiness in its philosophical sense is something utterly subjective, a self- determined measure of achieving what one wants in life — whatever that be and by whatever means this can be achieved. But it seems rather naive to believe that the concept of happiness is not strongly subject to ideological contextualisation and that we actually open up the way to a freely open discussion about “development”. I dare to raise the question whether the attempt to measure happiness using constructed proxies such as generosity destroys the exact justification of the pursuit of happiness as the only universally favourable concept of development: subjectivity. Does it not declare the “status of certainty” 7 of just another constructed arrival point of development despite being barely less ideologically biased than the previous development agendas? Is the pursuit of happiness a new “wolf in sheep’s clothing” to perpetuate the hegemony of a few countries?

To refer back to the introduction of this article, I believe that in many Western cultures we are indoctrinated that happiness is achieved by increased economic productivity, efficiency and consumerism. Forced onto society with the help of vast quantities of advertisement, this absolutely fails the liberal definition of happiness, but helps to ensure the economic system from within. By making happiness measurable and comparable, the only thing we achieve is giving a new name to an old strategy.

In the first World Happiness Report of 2012, American Economist Jeffrey Sachs successfully describes the phenomenon of “the ills of modern life” (Helliwell & Layard & Sachs, 2012, p. 3-4) such as obesity, smoking, diabetes and depression and calls them “disorders of development”. The subsequent report in 2013 promisingly even devoted a whole chapter to mental illness “as the main cause of unhappiness”, but I believe that it disappointed in two facts: Firstly, the report states that “…the large majority of persons with a mental disorder reside in low- and middle-income countries of the world” (Helliwell & Layard & Sachs, 2013, p. 41). However, the report then follows with data from the World Health Survey describing depression rates by groups of countries showing the following results: high-income countries 7.1%, upper middle-income 7.6%, lower middle- income 6.4% and low-income 6.0%. It seems that the initial statement is therefore not coherent with the findings of this study, but tries to reinforce the economic hierarchy constructed at the historical beginning of the development debate. My statement should in no way question the existence of equal importance of mental illnesses in the “developing countries”, but rather suggest a perceptual bias in the interpretation. Secondly and most importantly though, the World Happiness Report 2013 defines risk factors for mental illness such as loneliness, bereavement or a low self-esteem. Despite briefly explaining the problem of under-treatment of mental illnesses and introducing effective ways for treatment, the report does not question at all what causes or favours the risk factors of mental illness to originate or to increase. I believe that the World Happiness Report capitulates to the past development approach and does not reflect sufficiently on the possible influence of systemic errors in the contribution to mental illnesses and therefore reduced happiness.

Like other development approaches before, the pursuit of happiness in the ascribed way is looking for remedies to problems that are caused by a system that the approach itself tries to uphold, because dealing with the actual cause of the problem would most likely require a change in that same system. The initial movie scene from “Eat, Pray, Love” should surely not be used as a serious reference, but it puts in a nutshell what from a societal point of view is starting to be recognised in different movements: We live in a world where happiness is imposed to come from economic wealth and in which technology helps us to become more and more efficient and time saving in what we do. But instead of directing this newly achieved time towards things that essentially would make us happy, we use the time to become even more productive and more busy. Sadly, “dolce far niente”, the sweetness of doing nothing, became socially unacceptable in many contexts.

Ultimately, I wonder if followers of movements that try to “slow down life” and reconnect it to real terms can teach us anything about development? The only fact that it can hopefully support is that the assumption to know a generalised ending point of development is an erroneous belief. Or did Rostow actually expect the emergence of a social group that would prefer to be modern traditionalists rather than pure modernists?

1  The “first world” or “the West” describes a group of capitalist countries aligned with the United States after World War II that were opposed to the “second world” communist-socialist countries states headed by the Union of Soviet Socialists Republic. Accordingly, the third world incorporated non-alined states.

2  The Washington Consensus are ten economic policy prescriptions developed by John Williamson that are used for the structural reform of countries in crisis.

3  In the EU the poverty line is defined as 60% of median income.

4  Highest ranked were the United Arab Emirates with an estimate of 5.4 worlds needed.

5  Aristotle described the concept of happiness in the Nicomachean Ethics.

6  Experienced well-being is assessed in the HPI using data from the Gallup World Poll, which asks respondents to imagine a ladder, where 0 represents the worst possible life and 10 the best possible life, and report the step of the ladder they feel they currently stand on.

7  Compare to Escobar, 1995.


De Chant, T. (2012). If the world’s population lived like…. Available: http:// persquaremile.com/2012/08/08/if-the-worlds-population-lived-like/. Last accessed 5th January.

Escobar, A. (1995). Encountering Development: The making and unmaking of the third world. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

European Anti-Poverty Network. (n.d.). Poverty and Inequality in the European Union. Available: http://www.poverty.org.uk/summary/eapn.shtml. Last accessed 4th January 2016.

G8. (2001). G8: The Final Official Notice. Available: http://www.un.org/esa/ffd/themes/ g8-5.htm. Last accessed 3rd Jan, 2016.

Jefferson, T. (1776). The Declaration of Independence. Available: http://www.ushistory.org/ declaration/document/rough.htm. Last accessed 5th January.

Helliwell, J & Layard, R & Sachs, J (eds.). (2012). World Happiness Report. New York: The Earth Institute, Columbia University.

Helliwell, J & Layard, R & Sachs, J (eds.). (2013). World Happiness Report 2013. New York: UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Helliwell, J & Layard, R & Sachs, J (eds.). (2015). World Happiness Report 2015. New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Moyo, D. (2010). Dead Aid: Why aid is not working and how there is another way for Africa. London: Penguin Books.

Rostow, W W. (1960). The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto. 3rd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sachs, W. (2010). The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power. 2nd ed. London: Zed Books.

Taylor, C. (2006). Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics: Books II-IV. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The New Economics Foundation. (2006). The Happy Planet Index. Available: http://www.happyplanetindex.org. Last accessed 8th Jan 2016.

Todaro, M & Smith, S. (2012). Economic Development. 11th ed. Boston: Pearson Education.

Truman, H. (1949). Inaugural Address. Available: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/? pid=13282. Last accessed 3rd Jan, 2016.

Rephrasing the United Nations Energy Goal.

On September 25th in 2015 under the United Nations countries got together and adopted a set of 17 sustainable development goals to transform our world for the better. Each of the 17 goals has a specific target to be reached within 15 years. Goal number 7 states: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Now in my opinion this goal is very ambitious. The goal set by the United Nations does not only want to ensure energy access for all but takes it a step higher. The goal contains that the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix needs to increase substantially. I do believe thenergy-povertyat setting goal number 7 is necessary and important. Setting the goal means that multiple countries have agreed to work together in different types of methods to achieve energy access for all.


Looking at this goal #7 set by the United Nations it seems their goal was not just ambitious but maybe somewhat unrealistic. According to the World Energy Outlook in 2030 there will still be more than 780 million people who will remain without energy access. However there has been major developments and improvements. Even though there are major improvements I believe the goal should be more realistic and should be achievable when set. From everything I have had read and learned I believe there are two most important solutions which are also realistic. Clean cooking stoves should be promoted and marketed in the right way to overcome cultural issues with clean cooking methods and solar lanterns or more advanced solar electricity needs to be promoted more. I think these are the most important solutions to solve health and safety issues. If health and safety issues can be solved, I believe a big step has been made in fighting energy poverty. Therefore, I would like to allow myself to rephrase the United Nations goal #7 to:


SDG#7: Solving global health and safety issues related to a lack of energy access before 2030.


Tim Wierks, IMSD, 2017

Wider energy access planning to make it universal

Full Earth at night showing city lights of Africa and Europe

     Full Earth at night showing city lights of Africa

There are 1.2 billion people who has little or no access to electricity, and at least 600.000 million of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Readiness for Investment in Sustainable Energy methodology (RISE) aims to influence and reach the three main SE4ALL initiatives. This short report compares energy access of two African countries such as TANZANIA and KENIA, showing how can differences on the RISE scoring valuation at Planning, Regulations and Policies, Pricing and Subsidies, and Procedural Efficiency, can indicate reference points to see how they are performing compared with other ones, and how to get where they want to be.



At Planning Electrification Procedures they both are considered close to good practice. When analysing Procedural efficiency, they got the same RISE score although they present different distance to frontier approach. TANZANIA has more efficient business environment because of their better policies and regulations than KENYA, that receives  more support from subsidies and pricing.

Whether one way or another, the combination of grid, mini-grip and off grid energy systems drives universal energy access on the best direction. Based on the needs of the rural community or deprived areas, with a legal and regulatory framework, agreements between the shareholders, support from to government to smaller developers, subsidies programmes and private funds, and also decentralization of energy solution´s providers, any plan can empower wider systems to reach an affordable, relievable, sustainable and universal energy access.

Enviar comentario / 09 Jan 2017 por jpezzutti

RISE report / comparison between 2 Sub-Sahara countries

The World Bank launched a project called Readiness for Investment in Sustainable Energy (RISE) that is focus in three topics: renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access. 17 countries participated with information from December 2013 to June 2014. The main target of the RISE pilot report is to be a tool for the policymakers and promote private investment in these countries

The results of Mali and Liberia regarding Energy Access are quite different despite the similarities between this two countries.


Mali has an ambitious plan including both grid and off-grid electrification and already achieve the goal to give access to electricity to 55% of the population by 2015. For policies and regulations the standards for safety, reliability, voltage and frequency are by law. In pricing and subsidies the government have an especial fund for electrification, and is reflected in the increasing access to energy in the last years.

On the other hand Liberia is still on the draft of a plan for renewable energy expansion that is not yet validated. Regarding policies they don’t have a framework for regulation and tariffs. In pricing and subsidies Liberia improves by don’t subsidizing fossil fuels and having the goal of reducing their greenhouse emissions by 10%.

It can be concluded that the main reason why this two countries present such different results is because Liberia needs a trustworthy framework and a government that invites investors and NGO. Upon further investigation both countries are starting to do a better job and in this past 2 years both have obtain new funds for renewable energy access.

Enviar comentario / 09 Jan 2017 por aespana


Today, In the world there are 1,2 billion people without access to the power grid and other millions do have access to the grid but cannot afford it. As a result, they have to look for other energy sources like fossil fuels, biomass and illegal connection to the grid, ending up being more expensive and unsafe.

As a solution from the private and public sector, appeared Pay-As-You-Go systems that operates in different ways (rent to own or energy service) but the main objective is to offer prepaid energy to guarantee a minimum access to energy at an affordable price for millions of people. Every year people using this system is added to the statistics improving their living conditions and actually well adopting this devices making like this PAYG business a growing market. But as any business model it has some challenges that it may overcome like finance, supplier structures, competition among others.

Despite all the environmental (decreasing of the CO2 emissions), economic (savings in kerosene and mobile charging up to $258 millions between Africa and Asia) and social benefits (reduction in the health issues and death due to pollutant energy sources) that they have brought it is important to questions 4 global things: The role of governments in expanding energy access, the capacity of the PAYG solar systems to respond to every time higher demands, management of the private information of the consumers and finally the environmental impact of these millions of electronic devices considering their use lifetime of approx. 3 years (production and disposals).

Enviar comentario / 09 Jan 2017 por sgonzalezmoreno

Energy Poverty in Europe: Measures and Policies

Energy poverty in Europe has augmented over the past decade, with a huge 54 million European citizens[1] spending in excess of 10% of their income on energy bills. The map below shows the distribution of households across Europe that were unable to keep their home adequately heated in 2013, to the World Health Organizations recommended household temperature of 21°C. The south east of Europe has been significantly affected by energy poverty, with countries such as Turkey, Bulgaria and Lithuania showing over 30% of their populations living in energy poverty, and Italy and Greece presenting figures of over 20% of the total population unable to maintain a satisfactory household temperature

fuelpoveryu                                                     Source: BBC, Eurostat [2]

Many measures and policies have been put in place across Europe in order to provide assistance to vulnerable customers, either considered to be in energy poverty or on its cusp. They can be grouped into four main categories; Energy Efficiency Measures, Information and awareness campaign, Financial interventions and Additional consumer protection methods.

I believe the most efficient measures to protect and support households falling into energy poverty are those which make a long-term impact rather than acting as a temporary dressing for the problem, this can include multi-tiered approaches looking at financial support coupled with awareness campaigns and efficiency measures. For instance, Italy provided 95% of its population with electricity smart meters, with a driver from the government for gas companies to follow suit[3].  This country-wide coverage of smart meters will allow policy makers to have a detailed set of analysis on minimum energy requirements and to monitor energy consumption, especially in households of vulnerable consumers.



[1] INSIGHT_E “Energy poverty and vulnerable consumers in the energy sector across the EU” Page 22, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/INSIGHT_E_Energy%20Poverty%20-%20Main%20Report_FINAL.pdf, accessed 03/01/2017

[2] BBC (2013), “Energy bills: Who pays the most in Europe?” http://www.bbc.com/news/business-25200808, accessed 03/01/2017

[3] INSIGHT_E “Energy poverty and vulnerable consumers in the energy sector across the EU” Page 56, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/INSIGHT_E_Energy%20Poverty%20-%20Main%20Report_FINAL.pdf, accessed 03/01/2017

Enviar comentario / 09 Jan 2017 por jyoung

Productive Uses of Thermal Energy


Sustainable Development Goal #7 is to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”1.  One energy type that can contribute to this sustainable development goal is thermal energy – energy from the burning of biomass or solar energy – and it often gets overlooked by governments and donors because burning biomass can be perceived as unclean.  Many people in rural areas have very limited access or no access at all to the energy grids, making thermal energy even more important, and the key to spurring economic development in those areas.

Energy access helps spur economic growth when energy projects are focused on promoting productive uses of energy.  Many energy projects focus on providing new technologies to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which can ultimately act as a leader to transition other parts of the community to new and improved technologies.

Productive Uses of Thermal Energy: Old vs. Improved Technologies

Productive uses of thermal energy include but are not limited to: cooking, drying, heating, smoking, baking, water heating, cooling and manufacturing. New and efficient technologies exist that significantly reduce the amount of biomass needed for fuel.  There are also thermal energy technologies that feature solar energy, which is much cleaner and more sustainable.

The older technologies for cooking, baking and water heating include traditional stoves, three-stone fires, and inefficient ovens.  Burning of wood and biomass in traditional cook stoves releases black carbon and carbon dioxide, which is harmful for the environment.  Cutting down more wood due to inefficient burning leads to deforestation and erosion.  Traditional cooking also contributes to 4 million premature deaths annually4 due to smoke exposure.  Traditional crop drying methods include open air drying, which can lead to contamination of the crops, and lower the quality of the crops due to uneven and inconsistent drying.

Improved thermal technologies feature enclosed compartments for the burning of biomass, which means less biomass is needed to create energy, therefore reducing overhead costs and resulting in environmental benefits.  Controlled heating in stoves and driers also results in health benefits as there is less smoke exposure, and increases quality of crops through even drying with no contamination.  Less time needed to perform tasks results in more free time that can be used to increase production, ultimately leading to increased economic benefit.

Success Factors for New Thermal Energy Projects in Developing Communities

Local Economic Context

It is important to understand the local economic context of a community before trying to introduce improved thermal energy technologies; otherwise, the new energy system will not be successful.  While improved productive energy use can spur economic growth, it is not the only factor that contributes to development, so other factors must be considered and accounted for when planning energy programs:

Marketing and Awareness

Without creating awareness that an improved thermal energy technology could benefit MSMEs and local communities, the technology will not be adopted.  There are many barriers such as local customs, oral history, harvesting rituals and perceived risk of change that will prevent communities to adopt new and improved technologies.  Habits are not easily changed, so communication strategies must state incentives, such as increased incomes, reduced overheads, more free time, or other valuable aspects to the community.  Programs must listen to the communities they are trying to help and tailor communication to address real needs in order to create a successful marketing campaigns.

Business Development

When implementing new and improved energy systems for a MSME, the energy project should dedicate some resources to help MSME entrepreneurs build business plans so their businesses can sustain themselves and grow after the energy project is complete.  Business plans can also help raise additional capital, so MSMEs can expand and create further economic activity.


I believe productive uses of thermal energies are key to achieving Sustainable Development Goal #7 when the energies are efficient and incorporate new technologies such as solar.  It is difficult to extend energy grids to many rural and hard to reach areas in developing countries, so thermal energies provide a stand-alone solution to energy access.  Even with more efficient technologies, natural resources used for biomass must be managed in a sustainable way.  Energy implementation programs must fully understand and respect the communities they are trying to help, and empower the communities to continue with improved technologies once energy implementations are complete.  If implemented correctly, improved thermal energies reduce health risk, cause less of an impact on the environment, and can spur economic development.


  1. United Nations (2016): Sustainable Development Goals, Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy,  http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/energy/
  2. International Energy Agency (2011): Energy for All – Financing Access for the Poor. Special early excerpt of the World Energy Outlook 2011. Updated estimates of the OECD/IEA 2010, http://www.iea.org/media/weowebsite/energydevelopment/presentation_oslo_oct11.pdf
  3. Practical Action (2012): Poor People’s Energy Outlook 2012: Energy for Earning a Living. Rugby, UK, http://practicalaction.org/ppeo2012
  4. Brüderle, Anna; Diembeck, Katja; Hartmann, Johanna; Rammelt, Monika and Volkmer, Heike (2014): Productive Use of Thermal Energy, An Overview of Technology Options and Approaches

Enviar comentario / 09 Jan 2017 por Ashley Hodges

Energy access in humanitarian settings

Clean energy access for efficient cook stoves and clean fuels for cooking are NEEDED

Energy access in humanitarian settings is one of the most problematic issues that governments and humanitarian organisations are facing nowadays.


Electricity for lighting, communicating, and powering essential equipment is needed in humanitarian settings. Fuel-efficient cookstoves and cleaner fuels are also needed to improve respiratory health, help to protect women from the dangers they face when collecting firewood from unsafe locations, and enhance nutrition by ensuring families don’t have to exchange half their food ration for cooking fuel.

In 2015, 65.3 million people, were forced to abandon their homes and they leave with few possessions and in fear of their and they have been affected by this crisis, having to rely on three-stone fires and traditional fuels such as wood, animal dung, and agricultural waste for cooking, which negatively impacts their health, food security, safety, and the environment.

Nearly 3 billion people in the developing world cook food and heat their homes with traditional cookstoves or open fires, resulting in negative impacts like:

Traditional cooking fires are one of today’s biggest environmental threats to human life and a shortage of fuel for cooking is one of the many problems faced by people in the developing world.

We need to act now to fix this problem and be able to get a clean energy access in humanitarian settings and faced one of today’s biggest environmental problems and threats to human life as it traditional cook stoves and a shortage of fuel for cooking


Enviar comentario / 09 Jan 2017 por lsastreestevez


The total number of refugees in the world has increased for the fifth consecutive year to 65.3 million, reaching an increase of the 55%  in the last four years. 51% of these are children. And 53% of forced displaced people come from these three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.


Energy is used for cooking, lighting, heating and powering. Its access is crucial, but also its efficiency and security have to be addressed by emergency aid organizations and international institutions in their action plans.


Sustainable and efficient energy supply has to be addressed for three main reasons:

  1. Firewood collection entails security problems for women and children who have to walk large distances at the risk of being attacked or raped.
  2. There are also significant negative health consequences, with risk of burns, respiratory issues and uncontrolled fires.
  3. The environmental degradation can be irreversible.

A good solution to all this problems could be provided by improved cookstoves, which can reduce the exposure to violence women and children face, the health problems with the risk of burns, respiratory issues and fires and finally the environmental degradation.


To sum up, it can be affirmed that sustainable energy supply has to be addressed in the humanitarian crisis we are currently living because consequences can be dramatic not only for human beings (especially for women and children) but also for the whole ecosystem.

Enviar comentario / 09 Jan 2017 por ckirkendall

Financing for Energy Access: A collaborative Solution.

The lack of quality access to energy and have been consider as one of the biggest issues that the human development have to address in our days, affecting around 20% of the global population in some of its forms (1), polluting and damaging the environment and people that suffer it and affecting moreover the whole economy of the country, the sanitary system or the quality education. This implies the entrance in a circle of poverty that is difficult to go out. In the majority of the cases people is paying a lot of money for their own contamination.
Many have been the models and aids that have tried to solve these issues, but problems that have appeared in each. Some years ago, microcredits appeared as the best solution to facilitate access to credit to the poorest societies in order obtain quality energy, but the excessive indebtedness of the borrowers and abusive practice by some big lender institutions (2), made from some of these credits a sentence instead of the salvation that were supposed to be.
Through the use of the collaborative economy applied to development have resulted new forms of actuation, like the microcredit crowdfunding platform created by Access To Energy, that looks for overcome the previous problems by the empowerment of the local community and institutions with the energy access, engage people and private sector from developed countries for the improvement of rural and poor communities with the goal to reduce inequality.


Ilustration: Financing Methodology for Energy Projects through microcredit crowdfunding (3).

1. De La Vega Navarro, Angel. El acceso a la energía. Le encyclopedie de l´energie. [En línea] 2015. http://encyclopedie-energie.org/articles/el-acceso-la-energ%C3%ADa.

2. Heinemann, Tom. Microcréditos. Documento Tv, 2012.

3. Access to Energy ORG. Access to Energy . Babyloan. [Online] http://www.access-to-energy.org/en/the-microentrepreneur#Does the micro-entrepreneur pay interest on the loan provided?.

Alejandro Rodríguez Bolaños

Enviar comentario / 09 Jan 2017 por arodriguezbolanos

Solar pumping impact

water pumping scheme developed by SunCulture

Water pumping scheme developed by SunCulture .

Solar pumping’s most evident impact on development is an amazing optimization of farming. Starting with the possibility of growing more, better, using less resources, and ending with the reduction of some historic ecological impacts, like the use of fossil fuels.

Nevertheless, this new technologies bring new threats when not managed responsibly. Like the over-exploitation of aquifers of the contamination of land with salts and other elements lying underground.

Moreover, solar pumping stands as an invaluable opportunity to channel efforts into cross-sector improvements to developing countries quality of life. This not only includes the improvement on the quality and quantity of food and the increase of family incomes, but also refers to the development of financial and communication organizations in reduced populations.

The true potential of solar pumping (and renewable energies in general) lies in the possibility of organizing communities towards a common goal, the possibility of empowering people to take decisions to improve the life of their families and the possibility of to increase awareness on the way their ecosystems work, so that they take better care of the environment.

From a macro-economic point of view, profit and market share lead the main concern in the current economic system. The world needs a new paradigm that considers a broader spectrum of priorities and actors if it wants to become more inclusive and sustainable. It is up to the new organizations, start-ups and projects to lead this change.

Enviar comentario / 08 Jan 2017 por sestevez

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