Are technological projects reducing social inequalities and improving people's well-being? A capability approach analysis of renewable energy-based electrification projects in Cajamarca, Peru

Fernández-Baldor, Álvaro; Boni Aristizábal, Alejandra; Lillo Rodrigo, Pau; Hueso, Andrés
Journal of Human Development and Capabilities

This paper analyses four renewable energy-based electrification projects that were implemented by the non-governmental organization Practical Action in the rural area of Cajamarca, Peru. Using the capability approach, the research examines the effect of the projects on the things people value. It confirms that projects provide different benefits to the communities (reducing air pollution caused by candles and kerosene, improving access to communication through television and radio, providing the possibility of night study under appropriate light, etc.), but also detects an expansion of the capabilities in other areas not considered by the non-governmental organization such as those related to religion, leisure or community participation. However, the expansion of capabilities is different for men and women. The study reveals the limitations of interventions designed to supply technology, electrification in this particular case, which do not take into account certain elements that can make the use of technology contribute unequally to the expansion of people's capabilities. The paper concludes that technological projects can generate inequalities, and some recommendations are presented in order to address these issues when planning interventions.