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Energy for All - Timor Leste

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    Paolo da Silva for Mercy Corps Photo: timorleste-2008-mercycorps-0010.jpg

Baseline Assessment Report - October 2011

Mercy Corps is at the forefront of efforts to address the chronic issue of energy poverty in Timor-Leste, the second poorest country in Asia. Mercy Corps’ innovative Energy for All (E4A) programme is taking a market development approach to improve access to solar, clean cookstoves and sustainable fuelwood. In October the E4A Baseline Assessment was completed, a comprehensive analysis of current energy practices and attitudes in the three target districts, consisting of a survey of 570 households and over 20 focus group discussions.

Findings from the assessment highlighted the precarious energy status of households in both rural and peri-urban areas, characterized by dependency on kerosene for lighting, high energy expenditure as a proportion of household income, almost universal reliance on open fires for cooking, and increasing difficulty of firewood collection. The following are some of the key findings:

- 70% of households (90% in rural districts) use kerosene as their main lighting source;
- Average household expenditure on kerosene is $9.93 per month, and 60% of households are not able to buy kerosene at times, due to a lack of money or unavailability of supplies;
- Energy expenditure (kerosene, candles, batteries and firewood) constitutes over 19% of household income in rural communities, and almost 10% in peri-urban areas;
- 100% of rural households and 91% of peri-urban households use open fires as their main cooking source (6% of peri-urban households use firewood stoves);
- The average household spends 3 hours and 35 minutes cooking each day, largely the responsibility of women and girls;
- 55% of households think collecting firewood is significantly harder today than it was five years ago, compared with just 6% that think it is easier.
These assessment results provide the basis for effective monitoring and evaluation of programme impact, but also provide valuable information to feed into programme design. For example:
- Mercy Corps is working with local MFIs to initiate alternative energy loans, and household energy expenditure information will be essential to design appropriate loan products and repayment periods;
- Knowledge about solar and cooking stoves is extremely limited, suggesting a sustained education and promotion campaign will be needed to generate awareness and demand;
- 70% of all households own a mobile phone; solar product selection will need to take into account the need for phone charging capabilities, and promotion campaigns will seek to tap into the relatively widespread mobile coverage.

For more information on the Assessment Report or E4A programme contact William Baron ( or visit the Environment/Sustainable Resource Management community of practice on Clearspace.



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