This report is a contribution to a \"gendered\" outlook on energy services from the perspective of poor urban households in Bahia, Brazil. More specifically, it presents the results of a study conducted in Plataforma and Canabrava - two poor neighbourhoods of Salvador, the capital city of the State of Bahia in the Brazilian Northeast -, in order to gain greater understanding of the roles played by energy in sustainable urban livelihoods.
The focus is centred on small enterprises and their role in providing sustainable livelihoods for the corresponding households. The results confirmed some socio demographic trends already observed at the national level, such as: a) the significant proportion of women headed households among the urban poor and their greater vulnerability; b) the tendency for female household heads to live without partners and to be older and have less years of formal education than their male counterparts; c) the considerable percentages of these women who are retired or receiving pensions; and d) the sizeable proportion of these women who are supporting their unemployed adult children and their spouses as well as grandchildren, with meagre retirement and pension benefits.
One main finding in the study was the fact that energy services in urban areas did not appear as a priority in the livelihoods of the poor as other services, such as sewage, transportation, unemployment and education, which seemed to be of greater concern. As a result, a gender analysis of the energy services was not possible to do as expected because in opposition to rural areas, where energy services have an impact on gender division of labour and well being, almost the total amount of urban poor interviewed had access to electricity, therefore not having a major impact on gender relations.
A key finding was the weight of transportation costs on family budgets - the effect of global conflicts and their role in raising the price of petroleum throughout the world - which contributes to energy related expenses to take a sizeable proportion of family budgets (around 25%). Other important findings pertain to the nature of the small enterprises surveyed such as, a) most are home ran businesses; b) they are ran by women; c) these business are not the major earnings of the households (they supplement budgets); d) there are still incipient; e) they are the type of business that receive no incentives by the government; and f) they tend to be an extension of women's domestic activities - food production, sewing, etc.