Productive Use of Energy for Rural Development
There is almost unanimous agreement that energy plays a pivotal role in national development. Generally, there is a high degree of correlation between energy use, economic growth, and level of development. In the context of rural development, the traditional view of the productive use of energy is that it is associated primarily with the provision of motive power for agricultural and industrial or commercial uses. For example, motors are used to grind grain, operate power tools, irrigate farmland, and facilitate many commercial activities. It was believed that the motive power made possible by electricity would result in tremendous productivity gains and economic growth, thus transforming the underdeveloped rural landscape. In other words, the emphasis has been on the direct income-generating uses of energy.
Revision Traditional Concept of Productive Use
The traditional concept of productive uses of energy for rural development needs to be revised for primarily two reasons:
- there is a growing realization that although energy is a necessary condition for rural development, it is insufficient by itself to bring about the desired socioeconomic impact.
- there is a significant shift in the understanding of what is meant by rural development, especially in the context of the used by the major donors and international development agencies. The MDGs emphasize not just poverty reduction in terms of income, but they also highlight the importance of improved health, universal primary education, women’s empowerment, and gender equality.
Goals of Development
The very goals of development are to raise incomes of the poor and also to ensure that they are educated and healthy, and treated equally. Thus, an enhanced understanding of what is a productive use of energy must take into account not only the direct impact of energy on raising incomes, but also the indirect impacts that energy can have on education, health, and gender issues.
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