Our work areas

Energy and Health

7 million

people die from air pollution each year.


Nearly half of all air pollution-related deaths are linked to household air pollution from open fires or inefficient stoves for cooking or heating.


of people live in cities that are above the air pollution levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

1 in 4

health centres in sub-Saharan Africa has no access to energy.

The lack of access to clean energy has significant and wide-ranging impacts on people’s health across the world.  

Air pollution is a direct consequence of our use of fossil fuels. In cities, air pollution from cars, buses and motorcycles running on fossil fuels kill an estimated 3.2 million people a year. At home, the 2.4 billion people who don’t have access to clean fuels for cooking and heating are left exposed to harmful gas from open fires or stoves that kill an estimated 3.8 million people – mainly women and children.  

The lack of energy access also hinders access to quality healthcare in the world’s poorest, most remote areas. Health facilities need power. Clinics, maternity wards, operating rooms, medical warehouses, and laboratories rely on electricity to power the lights, refrigerate vaccines, and operate life-saving medical devices. An inability to carry out these essential services puts lives at risk. 

Our focus

UNDP focuses on three key pillars of the health-energy nexus.  

  • Electrification of rural health centres: our Solar for Health initiative works with 15 countries to equip rural health centres with solar PV systems. To scale up future work, UNDP aims to implement innovative business and financing models as part of the Solar for Health initiative, such as developing energy as a service approach, which is currently being explored in five countries (Liberia, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe). 

  • Clean cooking: improving access to clean cooking solutions is a major lever to protect the billions of women and children who are exposed to harmful gas from open fires or inefficient stoves for cooking or heating. UNDP calls for clean cooking to be addressed as a key development priority. 

  • Enabling cities to switch to sustainable transport: UNDP works with governments to enable cities and people to switch to low-carbon transport such as e-buses or cycling through integrated urban planning, fiscal incentives and innovative business models for e-mobility.