JAKARTA, October 18, 2011− Despite impressive growth, around 170 million people in the East Asia-Pacific region still have no electricity connections while another 1 billion people still use solid fuels for cooking. Nonetheless, universal access to modern energy is still within reach in this region, says a joint World Bank-AusAID report, released today. One Goal, Two Paths: Achieving Universal Access to Modern Energy in East Asia and Pacific outlines an ambitious program to overcome energy poverty in the region by 2030. The report was funded by AusAID as part of a wider partnership with the World Bank to help develop sustainable infrastructure in East Asia-Pacific.
“In East Asia Pacific, people at the bottom billion still face energy poverty and lack access to modern energy solutions,” says John Roome, the World Bank’s Director for Sustainable Development, East Asia Pacific Region. “With every second household in the region still depending on solid fuels for cooking, the indoor air pollution is a major health risk factor and women and children are especially vulnerable”.
The report urges the governments in the region to work simultaneously on two paths:
- Achieve universal electricity access by accelerating both grid and off-grid programs; reducing costs through appropriate policies and technical innovations; improving reliability, and providing timely service to all households.
- Increase access to clean cooking fuels (natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, and biogas) and advanced cooking stoves, particularly in poor rural areas. This can go a long way in improving health and reducing the number of premature deaths. Currently over 600,000 people die in the region each year from indoor air pollution.
“Both of these paths are affordable. It would cost an estimated $78 billion over the next two decades for the region to attain universal access to electricity, modern cooking fuels, and advanced cooking stoves. This is 40 percent more than what it would cost to maintain the ‘business-as-usual’ scenario over the same period, but it is a small fraction of Regional GDP,” says Dejan Ostojic, the report’s lead author.
“The Australian Government aid program focuses on the Asia Pacific region and is committed to assisting developing countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals,” said AusAID Minister Counsellor for Indonesia Mrs Jacqui De Lacy, “Access to modern forms of energy is crucial to improving the lives of men, women and children, and funding this report is one of AusAID’s many strategies to look at alleviating poverty in developing countries.”