• {{searchSuggestions.title}}

Energy consumption & efficiency in informal settlements

Energy consumption & efficiency in informal settlements


Energy consumption & efficiency in informal settlements of developing countries

The number of people living in informal settlements around the world was estimated at 830 million in 2010. Access to energy and energy use in slums are critical issues that impact the quality of life of dwellers as well as energy resources and climate change.

Considering this scenario, Enel Foundation, in cooperation with UN-Habitat and Politecnico di Milano, developed a research program aimed at providing information on inequalities in energy use and on energy efficiency in informal settlements in three locations: Lagos (Nigeria), Lima (Peru) and the Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro.

The objective was to acquire and analyze information on energy access, consumption and distribution, to analyze the energy efficiency potential and identify affordable solutions to improve the quality of life, reducing inequalities for the population and fostering energy efficiency in the built environment.

The study started with an accurate review of literature to identify the best practices on energy consumption and emissions in informal settlements promoting energy efficiency and overall quality of life of local communities. Then an analysis was carried out adopting a participatory approach: urban communities were directly  involved in the project and surveyed by local NGOs and experts of local Universities in cooperation with UN-Habitat. In the first phase of the study a survey was conducted in two informal settlements in Lima. In the second phase  an on- field survey on households energy consumption and energy efficiency was carried out in two informal settlements communities in  Rio de Janeiro State: Reta Velha, in the town of Itaboraí and Jardim Bom Retiro, in the town São Gonçalo. - Itaboraí and São Gonçalo.

This survey was conducted in cooperation with Viva Rio, (a NGO operating in the critical areas of Rio de Janeiro) and with Enel Brazil, that is the electric utility of the area. 

The  survey data and other collected information was analyzed and the outcome is a detailed picture of socio economic and technological aspect related to energy use in each settlements with the identification of a detailed list of critical issues and comparison among settlements.

The results of the research project have presented to the “restitution” workshop “Energy Consumption and Efficiency in informal settlements in Rio de Janeiro” that took place on Wednesday, 23 November 2016, at the Enel Brasil Auditorium, in Niteroi (Metropolitan Region of Rio de Janeiro). During the event, representatives of institutions including academia, global organizations and private sector debated the challenges of powering informal settlements focusing on recommendations to improve the quality of life, reducing inequalities and enabling communities to develop through the rational use and distribution of electricity.

The project was also presented at following world events:

  • World Urban Forum 7 – Urban Equity in Development Cities for life” on April 10, 2014 in Medellin – Colombia (see doc). During the round table “Energy access, energy efficiency and resource distribution: improving the quality of life in slums of Latin America and Africa”, speakers from Enel Foundation, UN-Habitat, Politecnico di Milano, Codensa and Edelnor, discussed on inequalities in energy use and energy efficiency in informal settlements of Lima and Lagos. 
  • First Sustainable Energy for All Forum on June  4-6, 2014 in New York, United States of America. The Forum assessed progress on sustainable energy, showcase success, share best practices, present new commitments, catalyze action and help shape the global energy debate for the next decade.

The final results of the project were presented in Quito on October 18, 2016 during the Habitat III Conference – Networking event “Cities in the 21st Century: Sustainable energy for sustainable cities”. 


The Challenge of Energy in Informal Settlements. A Review of the Literature for Latin America and Africa

F.M. Butera, R. Adhikari, P. Caputo, A. Facchini

PDF (1.21MB) Download