The Multi-Tier Framework
Measuring Progress out of Energy Poverty at the Household Level
Why is it important to monitor access to energy and collect energy access data?
Access to energy has gained significant interest from governments and development agencies,
particularly since the call for Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) by the
Secretary General of the United Nations in 2012. One of the key goals of SE4ALL is to achieve universal
access to modern energy services by 2030. Achieving that goal will require a concerted international effort,
substantial new investment, the deployment of new technologies, and a wide range of interventions targeting
underserved populations. The success of such interventions depends in part on the ability to assess the
level of access to energy, which can help inform policy, investment, and planning and enable effective
project monitoring. The rapid expansion of access to energy requires both accurate assessment and tracking
of progress, entailing large-scale data collection at the household level.
As a result, suitable data collection and assessment tools are required.
What are the challenges in measuring energy access?
There are two initial challenges in defining and measuring energy access:
the absence of a universal definition of energy access and the difficulty
of measuring any definition in an accurate manner. Such difficulty lies in the
multidimensional nature of access to energy: multiple sources of energy, delivered
through a range of diverse on-grid and off-grid technologies, need to be captured.
Furthermore, energy is used in a wide spectrum of applications, ranging from lighting to
communication and entertainment, air circulation, refrigeration, cooking, heating, and so on.
The practice of “fuel stacking”—the parallel use of multiple fuels, particularly for
cooking—complicates data capture, because it goes beyond the simple concept of an
“energy ladder,” and data on simultaneous use of multiple energy sources are scarce.
Finally, energy is not only needed at the household level, but is also essential for
productive enterprises in every sector, as well as for community institutions
(such as schools, hospitals, and public buildings).
To date, access to electricity has typically been measured based on access to a household electric grid connection,
while access to modern cooking solutions has been defined as cooking with clean nonsolid fuels.
The first SE4ALL Global Tracking Framework report released in May 2013 used such binary metrics to
determine starting points against which progress toward universal energy access could be measured, as
available data did not generally allow for more complex analysis. These binary metrics,
although convenient, fail to capture the multidimensional nature of energy access. Thus,
a new approach is needed.
THE ESMAP MULTI-TIER FRAMEWORK
The Multi-tier Framework (MTF) approach to energy access was developed under an
Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP)-financed
project at the World Bank called Defining and Measuring Access to Energy for
Socio-Economic Development. Developed through a set of studies in collaboration with
academics and practitioners, the MTF aims to track energy access and energy poverty
along all relevant dimensions, including capacity, duration,
affordability, legality, availability,
convenience, health, and safety.
In the MTF, each household is ranked in a Tier (from 0 - the lowest - to 5),
according to the available electricity sources, appliances, and cooking solutions.
(Bhatia & Angelou, 2015)
What indicators are assessed in the MTF?
Energy (electricity and cooking solution) access is measured based on the following indicators:
Depending on the indicator, the response may be binary (yes or no) or have multiple choices.
- Capacity (Electricity)
- Duration & Availability (Electricity & Cooking Solutions)
- Reliability (Electricity)
- Quality (Electricity & Cooking Solutions)
- Affordability (Electricity & Cooking Solutions)
- Convenience (Cooking Solutions)
- Legality (Electricity)
- Health & Safety (Electricity & Cooking Solutions)
What are the different tiers in the MTF?
The different tiers in the MTF represent the levels of energy access of the household/business/institution.
Each tier reflects the ability of the available energy supply to cater to specific energy
applications. For example, for household electricity supply, Tier 1 encompasses basic lighting and
phone charging, whereas Tier 2 includes television and electric fan usage. In Tier 3, the use of
bigger electrical equipment (such as washing machines or food processors) is possible, while
Tiers 4 and 5 enable usage of heavier and continuous applications such as air conditioning and space heating.
How does the tier-ranking work?
Once every indicator has been assessed, the overall tier for the household, business,
or institution is calculated by determining the lowest tier of any of the indicators.
For example, if a household reliably and legally obtains adequate electricity 12 hours per
day, but that electricity is not affordable, the energy access tier for that household remains
Why is it important to collect energy access information using the MTF approach?
Normally, there is limited data available from household surveys to measure energy access using the MTF approach,
which prevents organizations from effectively assessing and monitoring progress out of energy poverty.
It is important to collect a wide range of information on access to different types of energy
infrastructure and services at the household level, following the MTF framework,
in order to get a complete picture of the household energy access status.
The HEDERA Impact Toolkit allows organizations to do this easily at minimal cost.
THE PROGRESS OUT OF ENERGY POVERTY INDEX (PEPI)
The energy access assessment methodology used in the HEDERA Impact Toolkit is based on the
Progress out of Energy Poverty
The PEPI builds upon the MTF, measuring all dimensions of energy access.
Tailoring the framework and survey for the microfinance industry,
the PEPI has been designed to track the progress towards SDG7 at the household level.
The HEDERA Impact Toolkit combines the MTF, the PEPI, and a microfinance-driven crowdsourcing of
field data, drastically reducing costs for energy needs assessment, baseline assessment,