Real Clear World recently published an op-ed authored by GAIN spokesman Craig Stevens highlighting the importance of energy infrastructure and resilience in Latin America. Although Latin America has seen great progress in recent years when it comes to expanding energy access, more than 23 million people still do not have access to reliable energy. Those suffering from energy poverty often have to rely on primitive methods of heating their homes or cooking food.
As the op-ed emphasizes, these families often also have to overcome unhealthy living conditions and additional challenges, including “a lack of potable water, improper sewage treatment, and educational and health care shortfalls.” Proper energy infrastructure and improved access to reliable energy can “help bring communities out of poverty, and it can help support economic and political stability.” The overall quality of life could be greatly improved, as Stevens contends:
The possibilities cannot be overstated, as reliable energy can greatly improve many aspects of life. In the home, for example, it promotes modern, sanitary cooking and heating. In hospitals and medical facilities, electricity enables modern care and life-saving procedures. In schools, electricity allows the power of the internet, and with it new information, to teach the next generation of leaders.
Additionally, the op-ed goes into detail on specific countries that have significant populations suffering from energy poverty, including Honduras and Haiti:
Take Honduras, for example, where the migrant caravan started. As of 2016, nearly one million residents did not have access to electricity. The country ranks 96th out of 137 on the Global Competitiveness Index, with electricity and communications infrastructure ranking 105th of the 137 countries studied. Adding electricity capacity to a more reliable national grid would help bolster the economy and create new jobs. Haiti is another example of an underdeveloped country that could greatly benefit from investments in critical energy infrastructure. The country ranks 136th out of 137 for electricity and communications on the Global Competitiveness Index. The promotion of public-private partnerships is crucial in order to create a more resilient electric grid and expand access to all Haitians.
Stronger energy infrastructure and increased access to reliable energy are key to improving living conditions in developing nations in Latin America. Advancements in infrastructure would not only benefit residents and communities in the region, but also solidify more resilient relationships between energy-rich countries like the US and countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.
Read the full op-ed here.