ENERGY FOR DEVELOPMENT

MDGs are showing its positive impact on those societies, though extreme poverty and related under development didn’t disappear yet. A climate change induced drought, flood, and spread of epidemics combined with food shortage can create havoc. In order to have continuity in the achieved standards and for a further development, the process of economic development has to be continued in those parts of the world. Industry, commerce, agriculture and other services have to be developed and flourish. Communication and transport networks are needed to facilitate development. All kind of economic activity needs to be fuelled by reliable source of energy. This is the missing goal in MDGs. The millennium declaration for development is silent about this basic infrastructure bottleneck which most of the least developed countries are facing. A 2005 study titled “Energy services for millennium development goals’’ by different UN agencies found that,

Worldwide, nearly 2.4 billion people use traditional biomass fuels for cooking and nearly 1.6 billion people do not have access to electricity. Without scaling up the availability of affordable and sustainable energy services, not only will the MDGs not be achieved, but by 2030 another 1.4 billion people are at risk of being left without modern energy (Modi et al. 2006, p. 2).

World Bank finds that, though alternatives exist, grid electricity is economical and reli­able. Absence of electricity in a household means poor utilization of energy resource. An illuminated home is not a luxury to be desired, it is a basic necessity. It could prevent atmospheric pollution; increase the learning time, there by leading the pri­mary schools children to the secondary level to achieve further progress. Continuous supply of electricity will enable small workshops, industries, and other commercial and business establishments to run without stopping. It will improve the overall socio­economic and cultural well being of people. It will give more employment opportunities and capabilities, which is a way out of poverty and underdevelopment.

According to the UN millennium project (2005), women and young girls are respon­sible in house holds for collecting water and fuel wood, cooking, and agro-processing, and spend more than 6 hours of their daily life in order to meet these domestic needs. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 90 percent of the population still relies on traditional fuels for cooking, and only 8 percent of the rural population has access to electricity. With electricity, mechanization and modern technology can contribute productive activities. Instead of helping parents, children can go to school; instead of spending long hours for fetching water and firewood, women can contribute for the well being of their family. They can participate in other economic and productive activities using their free time that will empower them and help to achieve gender equality.

The 2009 edition of IEA World Energy Outlook estimates that 1.5 billion people still lack access to electricity. Universal access to electricity could be achieved with an investment of $35 billion per year in 2008-2030 (IEA, 2009). With the availability of electricity, community centers such as schools, health centers, and public offices can function better and deliver the necessary services for people there by lifting the underdeveloped and enhancing capabilities. Traditional methods of farming can be modernized by mechanization with the availability of energy. Instead of depending on seasonal rainfall, motorized water pumps could provide irrigation, resulting in better yields thereby offering financial security to family and food security to community. FAO report on agriculture points outs,

Fulfilling energy needs of agriculture and rural services is at the core of improving productivity. Land preparation, harvesting, irrigation and processing require differ­ent types and levels of energy inputs, both in direct (mechanical, thermal, fossil and electrical energy) and indirect (fertilizer) forms. Without these energy inputs, agricul­tural productivity remain low and probably well below its full potential (Alexandratos, 1995, p. 386).

As mentioned earlier, the missing development goal in MDGs is energy. Like lifting people out of poverty, or achieving gender equality, connectivity to the grid or electri­fication of households need to be counted as a necessary goal for development and to be achieved in a time frame of 10-15 years. On the whole achieving the MDGs are also a climate change mitigation option. Empowering those poor people around the carbon sinks will protect the environment. The people around those global commons deserve special support. Channelling finance and technology from the developed world to those vulnerable areas are not only wise but smart as well.

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