An Alternative Development Model: Assessing solar electrification for income generation in rural Benin


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Washing solar panels, Kalale, Benin


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Senior Fellow
  • William Wrigley Professor of Earth System Science
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute and Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
  • Senior Fellow and Founding Director, Center on Food Security and the Environment
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  • Deputy Director, Center on Food Security and the Environment
  • Associate Professor, Earth System Science
  • Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
  • Fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
Affiliated scholar
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Political Science
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Edward Miguel
Dept of Economics, Berkeley

Within one year of the project, pilot households saw a $0.69 per capita daily increase in standard of living. Project households purchased more food across food gropus, particularly in the dry season, and earned an extra $7.50 per week from local market sales.

This project involves an economic and environmental assessment of a novel NGO program which uses solar power to pump irrigation and drinking water in a set of rural villages in northern Benin. Building on a research design in which the villages receiving the technology are selected at random, the project will survey treatment and control villages to isolate the effects of rural solar electrification on incomes, health, and environmental well-being. More broadly, this study will help us understand the success of novel technological interventions such as solar electrification in improving rural livelihoods relative to other possible interventions, in the context of the poor, agriculturally dependent communities that define rural Africa.