Energy access

Access to energy has the power to transform lives, yet one billion people still live without electricity and over 4 million people die every year as a result of cooking over open fires. A reliable electricity supply allows families living in poverty to become financially self-sufficient and improve their health, education and wellbeing.

Our flagship energy access projects

Moving Energy Initiative

Practical Action Consulting is working on the Moving Energy Initiative (MEI), an innovative project that seeks to meet the energy needs of displaced people in a safe, sustainable manner, developing solutions for heating/cooling, cooking, lighting, electrification and water and sanitation.

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The Energy Access Finance Gap: The case for action

Decentralised energy systems are attracting funding from a range of sources, but a large funding gap still remains. Development finance in the energy sector is still overwhelmingly directed towards extending the grid. Practical Action has long experience and a strong track record in energy financing to inform planners, donors, and other financiers about the mix of technologies and the type of funding and support that are needed to meet the needs of those who lack energy today.

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Displaced Energy Program

Displaced Energy aims to bring traditions of qualitative, human/object centered research to bear on the way that the humanitarian community understands and responds to needs for light, heat and power in contexts of forced displacement. Practical Acton Consulting has worked with Edinburgh University to conduct extensive qualitative research in Burkina Faso and Kenya in the refugee camps of Kakuma and Goudoubou. Through a series of observational and interview methods, these reports have been produced by a series of skilled qualitative researchers and outline in great details the real lived experiences and how energy is used by displaced people

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The Lived Experience of Energy and Forced Displacement

What is the lived experience of energy access and forced displacement? These reports present qualitative data sets collected from Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya and Goudobou Refugee Camp, Burkina Faso, as part of the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project, ‘Energy and Forced Displacement’ led by the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with Practical Action.

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The Lived Experience of Energy and Forced Displacement Kakuma Refugee Camp Kenya

This report focuses on the lived experience of energy in Kakuma refugee camps in Northern Kenya. The energy needs of refugees and displaced people is generally an understudied and research area: currently the energy needs of millions of displaced people are not being met by humanitarian agencies or by people themselves (Lahn and Grafham, 2015). Our research aims to understand the detail of how refugees perceive, use and understand energy, by focusing on their everyday lives and priorities.

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The Lived Energy Experience of Refugees Voices from Burkina Faso

In collaboration with the MEI, this report goes beyond the statistics and provides voices to the numbers. By using a qualitative approach, we take a closer look at how refugees and surrounding communities understand, perceive, and use energy in their everyday lives focusing on the voices and stories of the people themselves.

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Our goal is to assist delivery of sustainable energy access for poor people in developing countries. Our expertise in this area includes :

  • Off-grid renewable energy

    Our work in energy focuses on giving rural communities a chance to access renewable energy. We provide technical advice and inspire people to facilitate an off-grid renewable energy system in their community. At both national and international levels, we help develop policies, planning methods and training to build these projects from the ground up.

    We use a range of technologies such as mini-grids and solar, wind, and hydro power systems, so that we can work in the poorest and most rural areas. In order to develop economically viable businesses, we help communities to engage with the private sector so that everyone has continued access to the services they need.

    Our flagship publication Poor People’s Energy Outlook is a key tool to help us engage with people about how to improve the lives and livelihoods of those needing access to energy. Our collaboration with the policy team helps us to grow and strengthen both our partnerships and impact.

  • Energy for social and economic use

    Our work on the social and productive use of energy at community, national and global levels contributes to many different aspects of the issues we face. We use learning from our work on the ground to facilitate partnerships between those we work with such as the government and the private sector. We seek to influence policies so that investments in energy access can benefit both energy providers and users, especially women.

  • Access to clean cooking fuels

    A key area of our work in energy access is to find alternative fuels for clean cooking. Appropriate technologies such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), improved stoves and bio-fuels are essential as they are more fuel efficient than wood and charcoal fire, therefore reducing monthly fuel costs. Making such fuels financially viable is a central part of our policy work to ensure that our projects are sustainable.

    Our energy work is integrated with all our work, especially around agriculture and water and sanitation. We work towards approaches which can bring about widespread change with a special focus on women entrepreneurs.

See more of our work on energy access

Contact us


Telephone: +44 (0) 1926 634403

fax: +44 (0) 1926 634405



Practical Action Consulting
The Robbins Building
25 Albert Street
Rugby, Warwickshire
CV21 2SD, United Kingdom


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