Towards a new measurement of energy poverty: A cross-community analysis of rural Pakistan

Bilal Mirza & Adam Szirmai


Most rural households in Pakistan remain in a state of energy poverty. They use a variety of non-conventional energy sources, including traditional biomass (firewood, animal and plant waste), kerosene and even LPG. A specially designed Energy Poverty Survey (EPS), carried out in rural Pakistan from December 2008 till January 2009, showed that rural households use different combinations of energy sources (the energy mix). This paper analyses the characteristics and consequences of the different energy mixes, used by richer and poorer rural households. Using data from the EPS, we develop a composite index to measure the degree of Energy Poverty among rural households. This index takes into account the inconvenience for the household associated with the use of different sources of energy, as well as its energy shortfall and takes household size into account. In our results, we found that 23.1% of rural households experience high degrees of energy inconveniences, spending ample amount of their time and effort in collecting or buying different energy sources. Next, using the standard conversion units to convert different energy sources into kilowatt hours, we found that 96.6% rural households experience severe energy shortfalls. Our new and inclusive measure of energy poverty which combines the energy inconveniences and the energy shortfalls, reveals that 91.7% of all rural households in Punjab province of Pakistan are in the state of severe energy poverty.

Keywords: energy access; energy poverty measurement; energy indicators; energy inconvenience index; energy poverty index

JEL Codes: I32, O13, Q01

UNU-MERIT Working Papers ISSN 1871-9872

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