Policy and Practice


The Poor People's Energy Outlook (PPEO) was launched in 2010, and since then the series of annual publications has drawn attention to energy access from the perspective of the poor. The series challenges the deeply entrenched instincts of the energy sector in its focus on energy resources and supplies, and on large infrastructure projects. We sought to redress the balance with analysis and insights informed by realities on the ground for energy-poor people. The reports have been influential in beginning to change the debate about energy access.

To date, the series has addressed different elements of Total Energy Access.

  • 2010: Energy for Households - outlining the range of energy services that people need in their homes (lighting, cooking, space heating and cooling, etc.), and proposing minimum standards for each of these.
  • 2012: Energy for Earning a Living - outlining the energy services needed across a range of earning activities including agriculture, micro and small-scale enterprises, and livelihoods in the supply of energy itself.
  • 2013: Energy for Community Services - placing the spotlight on the contribution that improved energy access can make to health, education and infrastructure services such as water and street lighting.
  • 2014: A combined and updated revision compiling the key findings from all three previous editions and updated to reflect the changing global energy debate. Also translated into French and Arabic.

Alongside this we outlined

  • Our proposals for how energy access should be defined and measured.
  • A proposal for looking at the energy sector in particular countries to assess their potential for delivering energy access called the Energy Access Ecosystem Index approach, comprising 9 indicators across three spheres: policy, financing and capacity.
  • Rich new material from focus countries, featuring Peru, Nepal and Kenya in 2012, and Bolivia, Bangladesh and Rwanda in 2013.

The demand for policy-relevant research and evidence on energy access with a clear poverty perspective remains strong. A consultation we ran in 2013 asked practitioners and policy-makers about their needs for information, and considered the focus of available publications. Demand for evidence was sometimes matched with supply, but there were clear gaps and neglected areas. For more detail, see the first edition of our Poor People's Energy Briefing Series.

The next three editions of the PPEO will take the Total Energy Access framework, and consider what it means to operationalize it at national levels: looking at pro-poor community and national energy planning, financing of these plans, and systemic and programmatic delivery.

We are currently conducting research for the next edition in the series. This will return to the heart of the PPEO series by looking at the total energy access needs of a selection of representative rural communities in three countries. We will use the opinions, perspectives and priorities of poor people, developing with them community energy access plans and using these as a mirror against which to compare national plans, budgets and priorities.

Practical Action would like to acknowledge support for its up-coming editions of the PPEO from UK Aid.