IGS University of Twente
Research group CSTM


Energy, Transport and Health

Margaret Matinga, CSTM, University of Twente

A medical officer has to decide whether to operate on a pregnant mother by a faint flashlight or to wait for better light at dawn. A woman in labour is carried on a makeshift stretcher over a rocky dusty road, unsure whether she will get to the nearest basic clinic in time. For his family, a man risks electrocution, tapping electricity from powerline overhead.

An estimated 2.7 billion people lack access to modern energy services, depending on traditional biomass for their cooking and heating needs, and kerosene and candles for lighting. Mechanical processing depends on metabolic energy: manually processing produce and natural resources. The few that have access, it is not affordable, reliable and sometimes unsafe. Similarly, billions lack transport that is safe, affordable and reliable. Women and men in rural areas walk long distances to access services and markets, transporting goods on heads, shoulders and backs. When transport is available, it is largely unsafe, inconvenient and harassment is common.

Often the those that lack modern energy services are the same groups that lack access to transport. This limits their economic participation, education, political participation and many other opportunities. There is also a high financial and personal cost that women and men have to pay. Poor health and poor access to quality healthcare are among the adverse impacts of lack of modern energy and transport.

This presentation explores how lack of access to modern energy services and to transport impacts differently on women and men’s health. It explores proposed solutions and their gender dimensions. It challenges policy makers and practitioners to understand the complexity of gender in order to provide solutions that are responsive to the needs of women and men in their contexts.