The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Working Paper - No. 216

Exploring Interlinkages – Impact of Energy Poverty on Students in Punjab, Pakistan

Illustration of someone sitting under a book, reading the page with a lamp like reading a book under the covers at night

26 June 2024

By Raana Hameed

This paper seeks to explore the impacts of energy poverty on students in Punjab, Pakistan. Energy poverty is currently one of the biggest challenges in Punjab, however, there are inherent limitations in the way energy poverty is being conceptualised within policy. Despite increasing severity, it is yet to be acknowledged as a separate form of poverty in the country and policy direction has been geared towards progress on the SDG indicators. While being data intensive, SDG indicators do not expand on interlinkages between energy and education in a meaningful way thus, no datasets are available to inform coherent cross-sectoral policy making.

Punjab is the most populous province of Pakistan housing 110 million people, approximately 53% of the total national population. Hosting the largest portion of the national population places a significant responsibility on the government to ensure adequate provision of services in both energy and education sectors. However, energy poverty is worsening with time in terms of accessibility, affordability, reliability, and quality. On the other hand, intensifying energy poverty is increasing the vulnerabilities of students by adversely impacting their learning environment and inhibiting realisation of the long-term capabilities that are crucial for their well-being and development. However, inter-sectoral linkages between energy and education have remained unexplored in the policy documents of the province.

Using the theoretical lens of Martha Nussbaum’s Central Capabilities Approach, the study examines how these deficiencies translate on ground by investigating inter-sectoral linkages through a student-centred perspective. A comprehensive understanding of these interlinkages can serve as a foundation for implementing transformative strategies, potentially leading to significant enhancements in students’ educational achievements.

This study is qualitative and draws on secondary data from newspaper reports, government reports, journal articles and socio-economic surveys to analyse the subject. The findings of the study reveal that energy poverty is creating and reinforcing circumstances of deprivation for students through decreased physical and affordable access to modern energy services within home and school settings. This has long term implications for development and realisation of capabilities in students and by extension, for the human development prospects of the province.

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