By Jerilyn Watson

This is the VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT.

International scientists, development officials and technology experts gathered at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D-C recently. They discussed the need to provide electricity to poor communities in developing countries. The event was called Village Power Two-Thousand.

The experts say two-thousand-million people lack electric power for human needs. Development groups estimate that half the people in Southern Africa, South Asia and Central America live without clean water. These people do not have devices to keep food or medicine cold. They do not have telephones, televisions or computers. This often happens because a central power-provider is too far from the areas where power is needed.

The experts also say more people today live without electric power than twenty years ago. This is true although many organizations have invested in energy systems using oil and coal. A worldwide effort called Village Power is working to improve the situation. Village Power provides people with energy that can be renewed. The World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development and the United States Department of Energy are helping. So is the American company Winrock International. Other energy and technology companies are joining the campaign.

Village Power officials say lack of electricity makes life especially difficult for women in developing countries. Women spend many hours bringing fuel and water to their homes. Representatives to the conference say new technologies can help. The World Bank is showing some of this technology at its headquarters. Visitors can see examples of power provided by wind, water and sun. These kinds of energy can be used to pump water for crops. Ovens with power provided by the sun can dry grains. Inside a small house, battery devices provide energy for lamps, a stove and a television.

Oscar Coto is a development expert with the Solar Foundation. This organization has headquarters in Guatemala. Mr. Coto says the health of women and children who live outside cities has improved greatly. Mr. Coto says this is because the foundation has been supplying machines to keep vaccine medicines cold and safe.

This VOA Special English DEVELOPMENT REPORT was written by Jerilyn Watson.

Voice of America Special English