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Accepted Paper:

Regressing to be "energy-poor": navigating the compounding effects of COVID-19 restrictions and VAT reintroduction on LPG in an informal settlement in Kenya.  
Serena Saligari (University of Liverpool) Matthew Shupler (Harvard University)

Paper short abstract:

Our case study in Langas examines how COVID-19 restrictions and VAT reintroduction on LPG have hampered progresses on clean energy transitions across Kenya and explores the compounding environmental, health, social, and gendered effects of regressing to being energy poor.

Paper long abstract:

Access to clean energy (e.g. liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), electricity) has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Global South, up to 25% of households have reverted to polluting fuels (e.g. charcoal, wood, kerosene) for their domestic energy practices. We examine the combined effects of COVID-19 restrictions and a 16% Value Added Tax (VAT) re-introduced on LPG in Kenya in July 2021 on domestic energy practices in Langas, a peri-urban informal settlement in Western Kenya.

LPG is considered a clean fuel due to lower air pollution emissions and a reduction in deforestation compared to biomass or kerosene. The Kenyan government invested great efforts to scale up its use, which increased from 3,5% in 2006 to 24,4% in 2020. However, the target of 35% of households using LPG by 2030 has been hampered by COVID-19 restrictions and the VAT re-introduction. We examine the joint effects of these two income shocks using a mixed-method approach that draws from quantitative survey data and from 6-months ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Langas. We showcase the lived experiences of regressing to energy poverty and we highlight that switching away from LPG does not only translate into using different fuels but in users having to readjust their practices to different ways to provide energy and food for their families. These changes have compounding social, economic, and gendered effects that deteriorate standards of living, health and environment. As poorer households were most affected by these economic events, pre-existing inequalities in energy access have widened across the country.

Panel P12a
Understanding the lived experiences of energy poverty in the Global North and South
  Session 1 Thursday 7 July, 2022, -