Worldwide, more than 1.1 billion people remain without access to electricity. This forces people to rely on expensive and environmentally hazardous diesel or oil for energy. Meanwhile, 2.9 billion people still rely on solid fuels such as wood, animal dung, and charcoal for cooking and heating. This leads to high levels of indoor pollution, severe health problems, and environmental degradation.
Within its work on Energy Access, UNDP helps countries to meet energy needs from the perspective of affordability, reliability and sustainability. This includes decentralized energy solutions and the use of mini-grid and off-grid options, as well as support to ‘de-risk’ the investment context, thereby creating an enabling environment for private sector investment. UNDP’s work on energy access also includes support to households and communities to have easy access to efficient thermal biomass, biogas and liquefied petroleum gas for cooking, heating, and lighting.
In Nepal, UNDP has helped install and operate 445 micro-hydropower plants to generate electricity for more than 98,000 households. In addition to improved sources of energy and lighting, this has helped increase enrollment of children in schools from 63 percent to 75 percent, and helped establish more than 670 micro-enterprises, resulting in the creation of over 1,500 jobs. This work has also contributed to recovery efforts following the devastating earthquake in 2015 by helping local governments restore energy to damaged buildings, like offices and health clinics, and by ensuring lighting in all temporary structures through solar-powered technologies.
It is clear that reliable energy access not only enables and accelerates progress against each and every one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but can also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce disaster risk and pave the way towards a build-back-better approach to disaster recovery.