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Energy Services for the Urban Poor: NGO Participation in Slum Electrification in India
Environment and Planning C (2010)
  • Bipasha Baruah, Western University
Some 40% of the world's urban poor, living predominantly in informal settlements, lack access to legal electricity. Urban upgradation programmes, if they exist, prioritize water supply over electrification since water is non substitutable and more essential for sustaining human life. Illegal electricity, albeit unreliable, expensive, and dangerous, is also already widely available in informal settlements. I share the experiences of the Self-Employed Women's Association and Saath - two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) based in India - of participating in a multiple-stakeholder pro-poor electrification programme. By 2008 close to 100 000 homes had been electrified in the city of Ahmedabad and the programme is currently being replicated in smaller cities in Gujarat and in the neighbouring state of Rajasthan. I use academic literature on urban infrastructure provision and politics, project reports and evaluations, pricing surveys, and interviews with electricity utility and NGO staff to analyze the programme for its impacts upon access, tariffs, consumption patterns, quality of service, and security of land tenure. The findings indicate that NGOs can be very effective as intermediaries between utilities, municipalities, and urban poor communities. However, scaling up such programmes will require strong state involvement in developing a policy framework to facilitate NGO participation in the design and implementation of pro-poor electrification activities, and in the energy reform process in general.
  • urban poverty,
  • electricity,
  • slum communities,
  • basic service provision,
  • NGOs,
  • Gujarat,
  • India
Publication Date
Citation Information
Bipasha Baruah. "Energy Services for the Urban Poor: NGO Participation in Slum Electrification in India" Environment and Planning C (2010)
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