Access to a reliable supply of electricity by poor households is thought to contribute significantly to overcoming a number of barriers, including: limited opportunities for children to study; severe constraints on economic opportunities; negative health effects via inability to store food safely; and constraints on the ability to access information via TV, radio and mobile phones.
It may have negative effects on the provision of services, including health, education and pumped water. Finally, limited access and poor reliability of supply more widely across the economy may prevent the reduction of poverty through constraining economic growth.
However, the evidence for the exact relationships between the provision of electricity on the one hand and the reduction of poverty on the other are not as well understood as they could be. Although there are some existing reviews of particular aspects of the relationship between electricity and poverty, an up-to-date, rigorous assessment of the evidence base designed to inform DFID’s programming is absent.
This document sets out the background and context for a review to be undertaken by IDS assessing the extent and quality of the evidence base for the relationships between low carbon electricity capacity and benefits for poor people. It delineates the boundaries of the study and highlights some of the relevant issues and the types of evidence available. It identifies the different kinds of electricity interventions and the kinds of developmental outcomes to be considered.