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Electrification is one of the most crucial factors to ensure social and economic growth in Bangladesh. Being in a developing country, people from various districts of Bangladesh have been experiencing electricity crisis due to the increasing daily demand for power, which outweighs the supply of on-grid electricity. It is noted that about 30 percent of 160 million people, majority living in the rural areas are out of electricity connection in Bangladesh. Consequently, the shortage of energy hampers socioeconomic development and lowers living standards of people. Since, non-renewable sources such as fossil fuels and natural gas, the primary sources of energy production in Bangladesh, are limited, usage of renewable energy technology such as solar energy efficiently can satisfy the rising energy demand and in turn improve the existing energy shortage situation. This study found that Bangladesh has been implementing Solar Home System (SHS) programs that contribute in achieving the target to reach electricity to its every citizen by 2020. As of June 2017 a total of 262,515 households do have solar home systems from which an estimated 1.6 million people are benefitted. This article is written based on a research conducted in the districts of southwest coastal region of Bangladesh where a total of 5.1 million people live of which on an average 42.6 percent are poor and 24.9 percent are extreme poor. In-depth interviews, group discussions, key informant interviews, and household survey were used for collection of data to explore the impacts of SHS on the livelihoods of coastal people of Bangladesh. This research found that impacts of Solar Home System services are both immediate and long-term oriented. SHS program contributes enriching all kinds of livelihoods assets such as human, social, financial and physical of the SHS customers. The poor and extreme poor people of climate vulnerable villages of southwest coastal region of Bangladesh are benefited in different ways from SHS programs such as save daily expenditures for kerosene, doing income generating activities in evening hours by both male and female members of family, children sit for study regularly, women feel safety from lightening of house, they can charge cell phone, they have access to weather forecasting, their social status upgraded, and they save money because they do not need to pay bill for electricity. The SHS is one time investment and they customer can pay for SHS package in installments. As the SHS program approach is environment and poor people friendly, its impacts on livelihoods are found sustainable.

About the Author

Hamidul Huq
Institute of Development Studies and Sustainability (IDSS), United International University


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