Opportunities for transition to clean household energy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), 95% of the country’s energy supply is made up of biomass. It is the form of energy most in-demand in rural areas where approximately 65% of the Congolese population live. Household and ambient air pollution from burning biomass cause high levels of non-communicable disease and premature death. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2016 there were approximately 61,000 premature deaths from household air pollution in DR Congo, with most due to lower respiratory infections. 

To address the household energy needs in DR Congo, the national government requested support from the CCAC to conduct a HEART Assessment. The “Household Energy Assessment Rapid Tool” (HEART) is a template that guides users through evaluating the national-level household energy context and identifying key energy and health stakeholders. This is a resource within the WHO’s Clean Household Energy Solutions Toolkit (CHEST). After the completion of the HEART Assessment, the information is compiled into a comprehensive report and used to develop strategies for promoting cleaner household energy that addresses national energy needs.



The main objectives of the HEART Assessment include: 

  • Identifying and mapping the stakeholders
  • Collecting data on the current state of household energy consumption and air pollution and health impacts
  • Assessing the situation and promoting clean and safe technologies in households, and        
  • Formulating proposals for DR Congo to develop or evaluate policies that increase access to and use of clean energy and technologies by households 

What we are doing

The HEART Assessment is conducted in two major steps: 

  • First, the stakeholders that are engaged in the household energy, air pollution, and related health sectors are mapped. During this stage, information regarding the scope of work of these stakeholders, their responsibilities and perceptions, mechanisms for coordination, and any gaps are gathered. This mapping can help identify windows of opportunity and partners for potential future involvement to accomplish DR Congo's Sustainable Energy Action Plan’s target to achieve universal access to clean and modern fuels by 2030. 
  • Second, a rapid situational assessment of current household energy use (particularly for cooking, heating, and lighting), the extent of household air pollution and its impacts on health, and existing energy, health, or other relevant programs is conducted. This situational assessment builds a foundational understanding of what fuels and technologies are used, what standards and regulations govern their distribution and use, national energy supply and infrastructure, and plans or barriers for the expansion of clean fuels and technologies. Detailed knowledge of this information will inform and enable future clean household energy planning.

Why we are doing this work

In DR Congo, the transition to clean energies and technologies has not been effective due to several barriers such as: 

  • Limited national-level institutional capacity for adequate governance of the development of the energy sector as a whole
  • Relatively weak capacity for public and private financing in this area of clean technologies, and
  • Overlapping mandates and the weakness of inter-agency cooperation that obstruct the operationalization of DR Congo's Sustainable Energy Action Plan

This assessment aims to overcome these challenges by providing a general overview of the current energy and household health situation, and identifying the key stakeholders, and ultimately supporting intersectoral cooperation. 

Pollutants (SLCPs)