The Household Energy Insecurity and Health Assessment (HEINS) project seeks to understand how energy insecurity manifests at the household level in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), with specific focus on the effect on women, infants and children. Without access to clean, affordable and reliable sources of energy, it is difficult for people at the household level to carry out day-to-day tasks and build healthy, productive livelihoods that contribute to the sustainability goals of their communities. In this study, our main hypothesis is that household energy insecurity impacts women, infants and children in the arena of disease, socioeconomic factors, nutrition and psychosocial health differently than the impacts of food and water insecurity.

This study is being carried out in three municipalities in the Chocó Department of Colombia, being Unguía, Medio Atrato and Sipí. In all three municipalities, residents have limited access to electricity per day (ranging from 5 to 14 hours). Using a combination of photovoice, interviews and a cogent quantitative data collection strategy, we are exploring experiences of energy insecurity, including indoor air quality and respiratory disease. Scale development and validation is one of our main goals in this project as well, and we intend to produce the Household Energy Insecurity Scale to measure energy insecurity at the household level.

Findings from this study will support the development and validation of the Clean Energy Transition Self-Efficacy Scale (CETSS).

Household Energy Insecurity and Health Assessment (HEINS) 

Resource insecurity is central to conversations about health and equity, not least because allocation of resources is intricately bound with socioeconomic factors like power. Under the resource insecurity, health and sustainable livelihoods theme, the goal is to develop measures that are more attentive to the nuances of resource access and its interaction with health outcomes, especially in relation to energy and housing insecurity. Clean energy transitions are also key to health outcomes. There has been a flurry of treaties, small- and large-scale interventions to encourage intervention but minimal interrogation of how people’s day-to-day needs may influence the kind of technology adopted, interventions that may be most successful and metrics for assessing the breadth of clean energy adoption. 

Resource Insecurity and Wellbeing in Informal Settlements (RisWIS)

Under the Resource Insecurity and Wellbeing in Informal Settlements (RisWIS) dimension of this theme, we are exploring how vulnerabilities emerging from compounding health and environmental neglect co-exist and interact to influence health comes for residents of urban informal settlements.

Policy action in various Sub-Saharan African countries has been incongruent with the speed of population growth in urban informal settlements, and the resulting physical and social challenges that continue to affect residents. Infectious disease outbreaks, frequent displacement due to extreme weather and poor urban infrastructure, poor housing and food and energy insecurities are only a few of the issues that disproportionately limit urban informal settlement dwellers’ access to resources. While there is a tendency to analyze these issues separately and on an individual level, we propose that resource insecurity negatively impacts every dimension of wellbeing for people living in urban informal settlements.

RisWIS is a multi-country, multi-site project with emphasis on the syndemic effects of resource insecurity on the health and wellbeing of urban settlement dwellers. Scale development and validation (such as the Household Energy Poverty Experiences Scale, the Multi-level Multidimensional Housing Insecurity Scale) are central to this project, as we believe that they are necessary in monitoring, assessing and developing health interventions that are attendant to the social determinants of health. Moreover, RisWIS also seeks to engender strong empirical evidence on the relationship between gender inequality and various dimensions of resource insecurity in urban informal settlements. Data have been collected in Ghana, Malawi and Kenya with participants from various demographic backgrounds, including people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV).  

Resource insecurity, health and sustainable livelihoods

Exploring a multi-dimensional view of resource insecurity