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Energy safety nets: using social assistance mechanisms to close affordability gaps for the poor

Research reports

Written by Andrew Scott, Sam Pickard

Hero image description: Wheat growing under power lines, Lalpur India Image credit:Adam Cohn Image license:CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Energy safety nets are government-led approaches to support the very poor and vulnerable to access essential modern energy services (electricity and clean fuels and technology for cooking). They close the affordability gap between market prices and what poor consumers can pay for both connections and service delivery tariffs, ensuring that households or social groups are not left behind in progress to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

A number of countries have tried linking energy subsidies to social assistance mechanisms, but there has been limited empirical evidence about how effective these have been in expanding poor households’ access to energy services and fuels. To address this issue, ODI, CAFOD and SE4All have developed first-of-its-kind research to inform best practice at the intersection of energy policy and social assistance to protect very poor, vulnerable and marginalized people. 

This report, and the accompanying country case studies and policy-makers' guide, distil and build on critical lessons from Kenya, Ghana, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia and India, with the aim of identifying innovative solutions around social assistance mechanisms. 

Wheat growing under power lines, Lalpur India
Image credit:Adam Cohn ~ Image license:CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Caroline McGregor, Hannah Girardeau, Andrew Scott, Sam Pickard and Sarah Wykes