Can you remember the last time you had a power cut—looking for the candles, cooking in their dim light and getting annoyed when you realised all your digital clocks were flashing 00:00? At the back of your mind, however, you knew the frustration wouldn’t last long…that, eventually, the power would come back on.
According to the latest data, just over 1 billion people around the world live without electricity. More than 580 million of them are in sub-Saharan Africa, and more than 275 million are in India.
The demand for electricity is huge. Communities need it to power their businesses, schools and hospitals. Parents need it for earning an income, and for cooking and refrigerating food. And, as daylight fades, children need it for safety, studying, and playing with family and friends.
Many families are forced to rely on charcoal or firewood to light and heat their homes and to cook food. Families spend countless hours and a huge proportion of their income gathering these fuels—time and money they could otherwise invest in education, healthcare and earning an income.
Energy poverty doesn’t just prevent communities from giving their children a prosperous future, though. It also kills millions of people every year. The toxic fumes that pollute their homes shorten their lives by years. World Health Organization estimates put the number of deaths linked to indoor air pollution in 2012 to 4.3 million.
At the IKEA Foundation, we have a vision for a better future. This World Earth Day, we are announcing six new grants, totalling €40 million, to help 630,000 people in Asia and Africa get access to clean, renewable energy. Our partners will use the grants to achieve great things:
All communities need access to energy in order to thrive. It’s so important that the United Nations says: “Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential.” People living in extreme poverty cannot lift themselves out of it unless they have reliable energy sources. These communities are also the least able to adapt to the devastating consequences of climate change. By providing access to renewable energy, we are not only giving families the means to change their lives for the better, but we are also helping them survive and recover more quickly when disasters strike. After all, energy gives families power. Renewable energy gives families a future.