What it is
By September 2011 the Light for All program had reached 2.8 million families, representing an estimated total of 14.2 million people
What it is
The Light for All Program was created by the Brazilian government in November 2003, with the aim of bringing electricity to two million households that at the time still did not have access to a reliable and permanent source of electricity. The initial goal was achieved in May 2009, which signified taking around 10 million people out of the darkness. These were predominantly people living in poor rural areas throughout the country.
By September 2011 the Light for All program had reached 2.8 million families, representing an estimated total of 14.2 million people. The electricity connection is made free of charge, and families are also given three lamps and have two outlets installed in their homes.
Over time, the goals of the program were expanded to account for a phenomenon that was due, in part, to the Light for All program itself: towns benefited by the program started to see people returning who had previously abandoned the towns in search of better living conditions.
It is estimated that about 682,000 people had made this move back to their home region by 2011 according to research conducted by the Ministry of Mines and Energy. The traditional migration flow - from rural areas to big cities - has been reversed.
How did it come about
The 2000 census undertaken by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) served as a reference for the program concepts. Mapping of areas without power revealed that 90% of such residents lived on an income of less than three times the national minimum wage. The Human Development Index (HDI) in the regions that would be the target for Light for All was also lower than the national average.
In function of this profile, Light for All emerged as a stimulus to economic and social development in the target communities. Research undertaken by the Ministry of Mines and Energy in 2009 showed that family income grew by 35.6% after the arrival of electricity in homes. Over 90% of respondents reported improvements in living conditions.
Light for All has also helped local economies, with 79.3% of affected families acquiring televisions and 73.3% purchasing a refrigerator for their home - as well as various other types of electric/electronic equipment, which provides comfort and improved working conditions, especially on family farms.
Overall, 24.1% of families provided with electricity in their homes bought an electric water pump for irrigating their plantations.
In July 2011, Decree No. 7,520 instituted a new phase of the program for the period 2011-2014, which has as its focus the population included in the Brazil Without Poverty and Citizen Land programs and/or programs set up in established ex-slave colonies, indigenous Indian areas, agrarian reform settlements, or regions that are affected by the construction of hydroelectric plants.
A pioneering reference
Electrification programs in rural areas have been seen during the last century in the United States, Canada, Australia and Chile. However, as explained by the energy consultant Ivo Pugnaloni, the Brazilian example is unique, not only for having been undertaken in a large scale but also in a short period of time.
"Light for All is by far one of the largest projects, if not the largest. No country fully subsidized expansion of the electricity networks, at no cost to the consumer. We are dealing with true human rights, giving people the ability to develop, giving people opportunities".
The results of the Light for All program have been analyzed by countries that still have hurdles to overcome in the provision of widespread electricity supply. Brazil has established technical exchanges with South Africa, Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guatemala, India, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Peru, Kenya and Zambia, to bring the experiences of Light for All to these countries.
Ministry of Mines and Energy