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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Rural Electrification: Drivers and Outcomes in Health Care Facilities in Low Income Countries

Clara Aranda-Jan

Rural Electrification: Drivers and Outcomes in Health Care Facilities in Low Income Countries


Communities in rural areas in low-income countries are dispersed and isolated, and have lower rates of electrification than urban areas. There, health facilities face challenges due to the lack of access to electricity or its unreliable supply. These problems mean that vaccines can lose their potency when continuous refrigeration is unavailable, nighttime birth deliveries cannot be attended due to the lack of lighting, and equipment can be damaged, all limiting the services that can be provided in the facility. Rural electrification projects have been encouraged and implemented with the justification that on-site electricity generation will increase access and quality to healthcare services.

The analysis of case studies of rural electrification projects to reduce energy poverty in health facilities indicates that electricity and healthcare are not in a direct-causal relation. The research concludes that, although the main driver for the organisations, increase access to healthcare will not strictly result from increase number of electrified facilities; hence, factors in the process of care provision must be taken into account. A sustainability assessment of the projects showed that financial, institutional and environmental factors are given less importance than socio-technical aspects, compromising future project’s performance. The research suggests the development tools to measure and monitor the impacts of health-infrastructure on healthcare under a sustainability framework.

Keywords: Rural Electrification, Rural healthcare, Low-income countries


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.