Energy insecurity affects hundreds of millions of people around the world. People in rich and poor nations share some similar experiences caused by the lack of access to affordable, clean energy and efficient cooking and lighting devices. These include the financial challenge of paying for energy, health impacts, and social stigmatization. In other articles I explored thermal comfort, government assistance, and financial burdens.
People in low income countries face unique and particularly severe forms of energy insecurity. Researchers in the Global and Environmental Health Lab at York University in Canada explored the manifestation and impacts of energy insecurity at the household level in Ghana and Nigeria.1 They surveyed nearly 800 households in those countries in 2018 and 2019, eliciting detailed information about people’s experiences with energy insecurity. The surveys captured information on the types of fuels and devices households used for cooking and lighting, the cost of obtaining those services, and where cooking took place (indoors or outdoors). Respondents were asked to rank their experiences with different types of energy insecurity on a categorical scale: never, rarely, sometimes, and often/ always. The responses were categorized as physical (lack of fuel), psychosocial (anxiety about lack of fuel), behavioral (children missing school), nutritional (forced dietary changes), and economic (lack of money to buy energy).
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Click through the slideshow below to discover some important differences and similarities in how energy insecurity is experienced in Ghana and Nigeria. In both countries, physical energy insecurity is evidenced by the use of unsafe sources of energy such as open fires and unimproved stoves for cooking, heating, and lighting, practices that expose household members to particulate matter pollution. Many households in both countries curtail energy use to avoid some form of energy insecurity and experience anxiety about securing or paying for energy.
But there some important differences between the two countries. Nigerian respondents tended to report more frequent and severe experiences across most dimensions of energy and security. This is especially true for some of the social dimensions, such as feelings of social exclusion and stigmatization caused by their energy insecurity.
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The survey in Ghana collected data on some additional attributes of energy security, such as who had primary responsibility for energy payments, fuel type, stove type, and whether cooking was done inside or outside. The visualization below enables you to sort and filter these data to provide deeper insight into how Ghanaians experience energy insecurity.
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1 Boateng, Godfred O., Mobolanle R. Balogun, Festus O. Dada, and Frederick A. Armah. “Household Energy Insecurity: Dimensions and Consequences for Women, Infants and Children in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.” Social Science & Medicine 258 (August 1, 2020): 113068. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113068.