UNICEF Working to End Energy Poverty in Burundi

Bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the east and south, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Burundi has endured decades of civil strife, leaving their energy infrastructure damaged and their hydropower potential largely unrealized. Indoor pollution from unsafe kerosene lamps kills over 10,000 Burundians every year, nearly all of them children under 5. Less than 3% of Burundians use electric lighting, making the need to end energy poverty a public health issue in this small African nation.

UNICEF is promoting off-the-grid, renewable solutions to end energy poverty in Burundi. They’ve recognized that new grid connections are typically made in urban areas, while the rural areas are by far the most underserved. More ready access to electricity will help improve learning environments in schools, increase safety in households and help ensure adequate medical care. Small-scale energy solutions change lives — especially those of children and women.

Improved, decentralized energy access in Burundi will curb both the widespread use of firewood as fuel and the need for outdated kerosene lamps, making it a considerable boon to the atmosphere as well. As Kirk Smith of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) put it, “replacing kerosene lamps is low-hanging fruit, and we don’t have many examples of that in the climate world.”


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