Pam Jagger is a UNC professor of public policy and will be the director and principal investigator of a research program for energy poverty in Southern Africa. She's been studying energy poverty issues for five years and received a $4.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation to conduct research and start a program to increase access to modern energy in Southern Africa. The program will be implemented in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It will start in January 2018 and continue for five years. Staff writer Ashley Cruz spoke to Jagger on her experience receiving the grant and her plans for the program.
DTH: How did you get this grant?
PJ: So we had an internal competition at UNC to see who would get to put forward their idea and my research group won that competition. We then submitted a first round proposal to the National Science Foundation, and they received close to 300 proposals. They advanced about 70 of them and we were in that group of 70s and had to submit another more detailed proposal. We found out in June that we were awarded the grant, and I think there were about 12 or 14 grants awarded in the end. So it was a highly competitive contest.
DTH: How did you get into energy poverty in Africa?
PJ: I have been doing research in Africa for about twenty years and most of that research has been focused on the extent in which people live in rural settings, which are most of the people that live in Africa. It’s how much they depend on natural resources for basic services like fuel for cooking, building materials for housing and food that supplements whatever they can grow in their agricultural plots. So I have been doing research on that topic for quite a long time, and the interesting thing about that is the dependence on forest and other natural resources. So that’s how I got interested in the issue of energy poverty and just thinking about how much people rely on firewood and charcoal for all of their cooking and how that’s really different in how we get fuel for cooking.