This article is published in partnership with: JHU

The most pervasive phenomenon you’re not aware of affects half the people alive right now. It prevents them from fully taking advantage of whole fields of human activity and fuels the degradation of their livelihoods and the environment.

We’re not talking about the iPhone.

Stumped? It’s energy poverty.

What’s that?

In its most basic form, energy poverty is a lack of access to modern energy sources and their uses. Whether this lack of access is physical or financial in nature, it means that someone experiencing energy poverty can’t tap into life-sustaining (and convenient!) energy services. About 80 percent of those experiencing energy poverty live in rural sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.