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The impact of power outages on households in Zambia

Ahmed, I; Parikh, P; Munezero, P; Sianjase, G; Coffman, DM; (2023) The impact of power outages on households in Zambia. Economia Politica 10.1007/s40888-023-00311-0. (In press). Green open access

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As global average temperatures rise, so does the frequency and intensity of El Niño-induced droughts, which in turn threaten the reliability of hydropower. 1.4 billion people live in countries where hydropower constitutes more than a quarter of the electricity production and which have experienced El Niño droughts, meaning many more power outages can be expected around the world. Little research has been conducted on the impact of power outages on mental health. This study takes Zambia as its case study to examine the impact that El Niño droughts have had on the lives of householders connected to a highly hydropower-dependant electricity grid, and includes the impact it has had on their physical and self-reported mental health. Using 54 online responses to a survey, we found that the greatest impacts of outages spoiled food, compromised entertainment, compromised ability to work and limitation in cooking options. More than a fifth of respondents reported experiencing self-reported depression to a major degree or all of the time due to power outages, with individuals writing their own responses that they felt debilitated, experienced reduced communication and reduced activities, and stress. Using Bayesian inference, we found that changes in sleeping patterns arising from power outages was a statistically significant predictor of self-reported depression. 63% of surveyed households were willing to pay approximately USD 0.10/kWh as of the end of 2019, about double the tariff that they did, to ensure reliable electricity supply. Household income was a statistically significant predictor of willingness to pay more.

Type: Article
Title: The impact of power outages on households in Zambia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s40888-023-00311-0
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40888-023-00311-0
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 Springer Nature. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10176725
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