This episode of WRI’s “Big Ideas Into Action” podcast examines why energy access is critical to power development.

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Almost 800 million people around the world do not have reliable access to electricity. Energy is critical for growing businesses, treating patients through health services and educating children. It’s necessary for everything from safe lighting in towns and cities to safe drinking water and irrigating crop fields. Energy access is vital for economic development and making people’s lives better.

This “Big Ideas into Action” podcast looks at two areas and their experiences with electricity access. First, we go to India, exploring the stories of a hospital in Jharkhand—where solar resources provide power— and an emergency flood shelter in the hills of Assam. Then, we turn to East Africa, where Benson Ireri carefully examines data to find the sweet spot between opportunity and impact.

Finally, we hear the big picture on how electricity is vital for the SDGs and flourishing businesses, and how health centers and clinics in towns and remote rural locations will heavily rely on reliable power to distribute any future vaccines to combat COVID-19.

This is the last of WRI’s “Big Ideas into Action” relaunched podcast series. We will return soon with regular podcasts. In the meantime, look out for the occasional special program when world events demand it.

Highlights from the Episode

Lily Odarno

“The global community has made a commitment to achieve very ambitious Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. These include goals in health, education, in poverty reduction, in clean water and sanitation. These are all things that depend on energy access. But what we see today, we still have almost 800 million people without access to electricity globally.”

Lily Odarno, Senior Associate for Energy Access in Africa, Washington D.C., USA


“When people are talking about access to energy, it’s not just going to be about access to energy for the sake of energy. Access to energy is important, but more important is … access to energy that can help in improving the resilience and livelihoods of the communities that you’re working with. And that’s the part that we’re doing actually on the ground.”

Benson Ireri , WRI Africa Lead on Energy Access, Nairobi, Kenya


“If you are delivering a baby, if you are giving a vaccination, if your hospital has a cold-chain point for storing vaccinations, the lack of reliable electricity is going to affect those operations. On the one hand, it affects the hospital staff, the hospitals. And on the other, it affects the people, the patients who come for treatment.”

Pamli Deka , WRI India Associate Director for Energy, Bengaluru, India


“Assam is a very flood-prone area. It experiences a huge flood every year. A lot of property and a lot of lives are lost due to these flood spells. They have a lot of relief centers across the states and we’re electrifying those. These are for the people whose house and where they stay has been inundated by the flood water. Thirty days without electricity is really very tough because they then have to depend on kerosene light or candles.”

Masfick Hazarika , WRI Energy Program Senior Project Associate, Assam, India


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