Informal settlements, which already face severe developmental challenges, are particularly vulnerable to impacts of climate change. Challenges of accessing reliable, affordable, and clean energy particularly exacerbate vulnerabilities that hamper resilience. Energy access is an enabler for sustainable development, and its importance is acknowledged in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda. SGD 7 aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”, thus the inaccessibility of clean, modern, and affordable sources of household energy to these communities presents an urgent challenge. This study therefore is a first step towards identifying transition pathways for energy towards a low-carbon climate resilient future in informal settlements. 

This project seeks to explore pathways for delivering inclusive, energy-enabled resilience in informal settlements. It facilitates understanding of energy access in its current form in informal settlements, as well as understand patterns of energy access and related practices and their implications on resilience, with the view of providing evidence for policy processes such as national and county-level energy planning.  

This study also considers how the political economy, i.e., actors, institutions, structures, and interests, interactively shape energy access and transitions in informal settlements. It also examines how energy-specific factors in informal settlements are embedded within the broader national context.

Objectives of the project  

  • To identify actors and their diverse interests and incentives, and how these have contributed to the status quo, by considering the vulnerable and marginalized groups within existing or emerging structures. 
  • To assess the interplay between the political economy components in relation to energy access and transitions in informal settlements. 
  • To examine how energy-specific factors in informal settlements are embedded within the broader national context 
  • Explore pathways for delivering inclusive, energy-enabled resilience in informal settlements. 

From left to right: LPG, charcoal stove, electric burner


Document analysis: We analyse key documents such as national and regional energy and urban planning policies, cadastral maps, academic and grey literature, secondary data from energy-related projects in informal settlements, media articles and key organisational websites, among others.  

Key informant interviews with relevant experts on the selected settlements such as urban planners, energy industry experts, and representatives from relevant national and local authorities and from the main energy utility, community-based organisations and households in both settlements. 

Focus group discussions with community members. 

Various qualitative data analysis techniques are being applied to the data. 

Projected Impacts 

  • Reduce CO2/income trajectory of at least 50,000 people through clean energy-enabled improvements of the productivity of urban dwellers in informal settlements and evidence to support implementation of cheaper, low-emission cooking technologies at scale
  • Attract additional finance to allow the suggested solutions to scale by pointing out large scale unmet energy needs in informal settlements and proposing solutions with positive business cases. 
  • Inform design and application of energy modelling as the project is an impact strategy that will provide opportunities for community stakeholders, utilities and policy actors to question assumptions on the access and consumption of energy.  



UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources 

Oxford Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment 


The project is funded by the Climate Compatible Growth (CCG) programme, an action-oriented research programme funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to support investment in sustainable energy and transport systems to meet development priorities in the Global South. CCG is aimed at generating robust and effective evidence, tools and frameworks on how countries in the Global South can best respond to the low-carbon transition, support growth aspirations and better meet the SDGs.