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


Washing solar panels, Kalale, Benin


Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Earth System Science
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Woods Institute
  • Associate Professor, by courtesy, Economics
Center Fellow
  • Assistant Professor, Earth System Science
Visiting Fellow
Senior Fellow
  • Professor, Political Science
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.