International development partnerships and diffusion of renewable energy technologies in developing countries: cases in Latin America
Social Structure and Development
international development partnerships
diffusion of renewable energy technologies
remote rural communities
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AbstractAccess to energy is vital for sustainable development and poverty alleviation, yet billions of people in developing countries continue to suffer from constant exposure to open fires and dangerous fuels, such as kerosene. Renewable energy technologies are being acknowledged as suitable solutions for remote rural communities in much of the developing world and international development non-governmental organizations (NGOs) increasingly play important roles in the diffusion of these technologies via development partnerships. While these partnerships are widely promoted, many questions related to their functioning and effectiveness remain open. To advance the theory and practice, this interdisciplinary exploratory research provides in-depth insights into the nature of international NGO-driven development partnerships in rural renewable energy and their effectiveness based on the case studies in Talamanca, Costa Rica and Cajamarca, Peru. The analysis of the nature of development partnerships shows that partnerships in the case studies differ in structure, size and diversity of actors due to differentiation in the implementation strategies, technological complexities, institutional and contextual factors. A multi-theoretical approach is presented to explain the multiple drivers of the studied development partnerships. The research highlights partnership constraints related to the provision of rural renewable energy, the organizational type and institutional environments. Based on the case studies this research puts forward theoretical propositions regarding the factors that affect the effectiveness of the partnerships. In terms of the partnership dynamics dimension, several key factors of success are confirmed from the existing literature, namely shared values and goals, complementary expertise and capacities, confidence and trust, clear roles and responsibilities, effective communication. Additional factors identified are personality match and continuity of staff. In terms of the partnership outcomes dimension, a previously under-researched aspect of partnerships, this study found that success was associated with a local champion who is trusted by the community, has the resources and skills to educate and engage the community and build capacities for sustainable provision of energy services, and institutionalizes its learning processes. Providing affordable technological solutions that meet people’s needs and are developed in a participatory way are other important factors found to be positively associated with the effectiveness of the studied partnerships.
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