Urban community resilience

ESRC-DFID Research for Policy and Practice

This research examines the energy practices of very poor women, men and young people living in informal settlements in peri-urban situations in Nigeria, South Sudan, Nepal and Bangladesh and how these are changing, drawing comparative lessons across the study countries. It challenges conventional approaches to energy transition research. Lack of access to clean energy limits economic development, stifles people’s life chances and traps millions into extreme poverty. Sustainable Development Goal 7 makes bringing access to affordable, clean and reliable energy for the poor a necessary element in transforming the development prospects for the 1.4 million people currently without modern energy services. However, while considerable development activity is being devoted to bringing new technological products from renewable energy research centre laboratory benches into the affordable reach of the energy-poor, current approaches to energy transition are deficient, not least because they fail to take into account the specific contexts and needs of the poorest and most marginal groups in low income countries: the women, men and youth on whom we focus in this project.

The study will explore the energy practices of those who have experienced displacement as a result of environmental precarity (disasters or climate change), or political conflict, and are living in peri-urban locations but unconnected to the electricity grid. They offer a prime example of vulnerable groups whose energy requirements continue to be (poorly) met by biomass: the implications are substantial and extend beyond energy to transport (since high biomass usage can put a massive transport burden on women and children through head-loading of firewood/charcoal) and to other sectors, e.g. food, water, health. The study’s novel purpose is to understand the range of means by which the poor access energy for light, heat and cooking fuel, and how this may have changed over time. 

Read/download a paper on Urban community resilience highlighting key messages from research focusing on urban community resilience from the ESRC-DFID Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation which features this project.