/ Globally, 188 mln children – about one in three – go to schools with no electricity.4
The lived experience of little or no energy
The statistics that 2.4 bln people lack clean energy for cooking or 768 mln have no access to reliable electricity are, in some ways, both mindboggling and baffling. A terrific visualisation from Good Data scales world population to 100 people to show demographic distribution of age, education, wealth, access to water and other common factors that make life easy or hard.
Now think of 100 people who live in your neighbourhood. Forty would still cook with wood, charcoal or dung (and have to spend much of their time collecting it) and 10 would not be able to use a single appliance, electronic device or even light in their own home.
If abject energy poverty were evenly distributed geographically, governments might be more inclined take aggressive action – and fellow citizens more inclined to demand that they do. The fact that it is concentrated in remote areas and the poorest parts of megacities makes implementing solutions both complicated and costly. Often, collecting the data needed to justify costs and demonstrate cost-effectiveness requires a substantial share of available budgets.3
EnAct loves data and recognises that it underpins decisions and action. We also recognise the importance of context. For that reason, we couple our films about people with backstories that tell the broader story.
Liberia (2013) ● Until 1979, Liberia boasted one of the more developed and fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, reflecting its rich endowment of water, mineral resources and forests, as well as a climate favourable to agriculture. The population was densely concentrated around the capital of Monrovia and access to electricity relatively high.
But a coup d’état in 1980 led to instability and, eventually, to two civil wars – during which rebels systematically destroyed the electricity system. Darkness explores the unprecedented situation in which the current generation of young people have less power than their parents did. And thus, less opportunity.
Filming at both the Ganta United Methodist Hospital (the second-largest in the country) and the Kakata Rural Teachers Training Institute (KRTTI), two things immediately struck the EnAct team. Lying just 700 km (436 miles) north of the Equator, night falls early across the country and is pitch black, broken only by an occasional streetlamp, the headlights of a passing car or what spills from windows of homes, restaurants and hotels. Where there is light, it assaults one’s senses: the unrelenting rumble and acrid smell of diesel generators are never far away.
“You live in the darkest world,” says Harry F. Bombo, student at KRTTI. Just 15 when the civil wars broke out, he spent a decade in hiding in the jungle. Now staring his career at 30, he worries about the gaping hole between himself and experts on the verge of retirement. “At my age, I should already be in middle management, ready to step into such roles.”
At the Ganta Hospital, Assistant Administrator Patrick Mantor agonises over the correlation between high diesel prices and rising maternal and infant mortality. The bid to maintain minimum power at the hospital – which means 9-10 hours per day – means he has no budget left for repairs to the SUV that served as a rural ambulance.