Sustainable electricity for sustainable health? A case study in North-western Zambia

Keywords: renewable energy; sustainability; rural settings; non-communicable diseases, diabetes, well-being, communi-ty health, diet, clean energy


This study explores the under-researched link between clean energy and public health outcomes, and offers new insights into the link between wider access to clean energy and progress towards health outcomes, in particular the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes. This is the first study to consider the impact of a run-of-river hydropower plant (RORHP) in a remote rural community in Zambia in relation to health outcomes. Exploring this relationship establishes how the health benefits which renewable energy can bring can be capitalised upon to meet the health-related objectives of the United Nations sustainable development goals. Workshops and semi-structured interviews were conducted with a range of stakeholders including community members, health workers, business owners, and key people involved with the plant, to establish health and social impacts of the introduction of electricity in the community of Ikelenge. Findings are used to establish both synergies and trade-offs of the RORHP on the health of the community, and recommendations are made for the continued improvement of health following the introduction of the RORHP, to achieve further progress towards meeting SDG targets.

Author Biographies

Lizzie Caperon, Bradford Institute for Health Research, Bradford Royal Infirmary

Lizzie is a global health researcher specialising in non communicable diseases (NCDs) and participatory community-based research. Lizzie joined QMU and the Institute of Global Health and Development as a NIHR research fellow in the Research Unit in Situations of Fragility in 2019. She completed her PhD at the University of Leeds on NCDs, specifically looking at diabetes and dietary behaviour in low- and middle-income countries. Contexts in which Lizzie has completed research include Nepal, Sierra Leone and Zambia. She is interested in global health research including community-based interventions, reduction of NCDs, using participatory methods and participatory research.

Lina Brand-Correa, University of Leeds, UK

Lina is currently working at the University of Leeds, UK on the LiLi (Living Well Within Limits) Project, using participatory workshops to analyse the relationship between energy services and human needs in six different case study countries (UK, Germany, Colombia, Vietnam, Zambia and Nepal). This work builds from my PhD project "Following the 'golden thread': exploring the energy dependency of economies and human well-being".


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