Report: Nearly Half the World’s Population Still Lacks Access to Modern Energy Cooking Services

WASHINGTON, September 24, 2020—Four billion people around the world still lack access to clean, efficient, convenient, safe, reliable, and affordable cooking energy, a new World Bank report finds. While around 1.25 billion are considered in transition with access to improved cooking services1, the rest still cook with traditional polluting fuels and technologies with severe impacts on health, gender, economic, environmental, and climate outcomes.

Using an expanded methodology to provide a more comprehensive measurement of household energy access and cooking solutions, the State of Access to Modern Energy Cooking Services report finds that the rate of access to modern sources of energy for cooking stands at only 10 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa, 36 percent in East Asia, and 56 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Lack of progress in clean cooking is costing the world more than $2.4 trillion each year, driven by adverse impacts on health, climate, and gender equality. Women bear a disproportionate share of this cost in the form of poor health and safety, as well as lost productivity,” said Makhtar Diop, World Bank Vice President for Infrastructure. “This toll may increase in the ongoing pandemic as household air pollution, resulting from the use of highly polluting fuels and stoves, may make exposed populations more susceptible to COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases.”

This World Bank report sheds new light on a critical component to achieving target 7.1 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In an effort to gain a better understanding of the barriers to progress, the report uses a new multidimensional approach to measure access to modern energy for cooking across six factors, examining not only whether it is clean, but also whether it is efficient, convenient, safe, reliable, and affordable.

Funding commitments for residential clean cooking by development partners and the private sector had recently fallen from US$120 million to US$32 million2. The State of Access to Modern Energy Cooking Services report estimates that $150 billion is needed annually to reach universal access to modern energy cooking services by 2030. Of this amount, approximately $39 billion is required in public funding to ensure that modern cooking solutions are affordable for the poorest while $11 billion is needed from the private sector to install downstream infrastructure for the functioning of modern energy cooking markets, such as the distribution network. The remaining $103 billion would come from household purchases of stoves and fuels. A less ambitious scenario of reaching universal access to improved cooking services by 2030 requires $10 billion per year, including $6 billion from the public sector to fill the affordability gap and the rest by households.

“The report presents a new, nuanced, understanding of what is meant by access to clean cooking, going beyond efficiency and emissions to fully contextualise the users cooking experience, including safety, affordability and availability. The UK government is supportive of these findings and continues to back the MECS programme to provide more affordable, less polluting, and healthier cooking practices for people around the world, “ said Professor Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Advisor and Director of Research and Evidence Division, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).

As countries and their partners in the public and private sectors work to scale up efforts to reach universal access to modern energy cooking services, the report provides three key recommendations:

  • Creating high-profile coalitions of political leaders to prioritize access to modern energy cooking services in global and national arenas;
  • Formalizing cooking energy demand in national energy planning and development strategies, in order to achieve universal access that reflects diverse users’ needs, local market conditions, and national comparative advantages on energy resources;
  • Dramatically increasing funding focused on modern energy cooking services that moves from the tens and hundreds of millions to the tens of billions.

The State of Access to Modern Energy Cooking Services report was produced by the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) in collaboration with Loughborough University and the Clean Cooking Alliance. It is a product of the research efforts implemented under the Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) Program and presents newly compiled evidence and insights to guide continued sector progress toward achieving SDG Target 7.1 by 2030.


For more information please visit The World Bank page.


1The MTF (Multi-Tier Framework) for cooking is a multidimensional, tiered approach to measuring household access to cooking solutions across six technical and contextual attributes—convenience, affordability, safety, fuel availability, exposure, and efficiency, ranging from Tier 0 (no access) to Tier 5 (full access). A household is considered to have access to modern energy cooking services (MECS) when their cooking practices meet the MTF Tier 4 or above. A household whose cooking practices meet MTF Tier 2 or 3 is considered as being in transition with access to improved cooking services.

2Energizing Finance: Understanding the Landscape 2019, SEforALL