The Overlooked Children of Africa- Climate Disruption Tour Energy Poverty

by Alexei Laushkin

Energy poverty is a major challenge when it comes to climate change and Malawi. Only 6% of the country has acess to electricity, with the vast majority of that power coming from centralized grid systems in the cities. Without energy you are literally in the dark.

Here’s an example of the sort of energy access available in one of the villages we visited.

This is what energy poverty looks like in the villages of Malawi. This is the only light this family owns. That’s it. When it’s the middle of the night this lights an entire room. Other than this light the only other option is to start a fire. It’s hard to develop without access to energy. One of the keys to overcoming climate change is turning energy poverty into energy prosperity. Decentralized energy in the form of solar, biomass, and mini-hydro are among the market based innovations that will be key.

Without clean and safe sources of energy children suffer. Indoor air pollution is a leading cause for health problems for children in Africa. Women are also susceptible to burns when cooking over large open flames like you see below.

Cleaner burning stoves and solar stoves are an important adaptation that cuts down on the amount of wood needed to heat a stove. But in addition to the cooking needs, addressing energy needs through market based mini-grids are key to helping entrepreneurship thrive. Finding ways to build wealth capacity among the poorest of the poor is one of the best ways to combat the impacts of climate change on these rural communities. Access to food, water, new crop methods, energy, and cleaner stoves are all key to making the prospects for Africa’s children much brighter.

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