Power Struggle

Two billion people lack reliable access to electricity. One-fifth of the world's schools, hospitals and homes are often in the dark. How can we provide everyone with access without hastening climate change?

Discourse Media collaborated with nine international journalists to investigate how energy poverty affects people in places from Cameroon to island nations such as Kiribati to northern Canada. Power Struggle reports on the systemic issues at the heart of the problem and, most importantly, potential solutions.

Explore dispatches from the reporters, dive into the data and join the conversation. Learn more about the project.


Despite decades of efforts, energy poverty leads to over 5 million deaths each year. The need for breakthrough thinking was the impetus behind the OpenAccess Summit, a gathering of energy experts and community leaders from 22 countries and four of Canada’s First Nations, from April 24 to 27, 2016.

Power Struggle reporters were there, sharing what they learned and listening for new stories and solutions.

How can we provide everyone with access to energy?

Discourse Media

How does energy poverty affect people around the world? One billion people rely on health facilities that lack reliable access to electricity. 4.3 million die every year from air pollution caused by combustible fuels used for household light and cooking.

Power Struggle reporters asked citizens in different countries how energy affects their everyday lives. Explore First Person for their stories, in their own words, and contribute your own.

Faisal Mahmud

Abul Kalam Sikdar, Bangladesh

“When I opened my dispensary at Dhuron Bazaar … we didn’t have any electricity there, so it was not possible for us to preserve the medicines which need refrigeration. … When the solar mini-grid power plant opened in 2014 … I took the connection. It was the best thing that had happened in Kutubdia for a long time. I took the connection in my home and bought a TV. Previously, my family needed to go to the market to watch Bangladesh cricket matches. We now can watch those in our own home.”

Much of the data and research on energy poverty and other subjects can be hard to interpret  but it’s vital that more people understand the issues so they can make informed decisions. With this in mind, Discourse Media creates accessible data interactives, infographics and research briefs that reveal systemic patterns about the issues we report on.

Explore how providing electricity to all would impact emissions using the calculator below, and visit Deep Dive for more detailed data on energy issues around the world.

Who gets to light their cities at night?

Move the slider to explore where in the world electricity is plentiful at night. The orange dots indicate the location of the Power Struggle fellows' reports.
Data courtesy of Marc Imhoff of NASA GSFC and Christopher Elvidge of NOAA NGDC.

The stories featured here are just the first step. Discourse Media plans to stick with the issue, purposefully participating in the conversation both online and offline, ensuring the reporting ends up in the hands of those best positioned to create change and holding those in positions of power accountable for their promises.

Follow The Long Tail for a behind-the-scenes look at Power Struggle and to help us track change.

Collaborative journalism: How you can get involved

We want to see equitable and sustainable access to energy globally, and we believe stories are essential in moving us forward. Help us get there.

Andrew Mambondiyani