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Moving Energy starts clean energy projects to boost health and enterprise in refugee camps


Thousands of refugees in Burkina Faso, Kenya and Jordan will benefit from greater access to affordable, clean energy for domestic use and for powering ‘microbusinesses’, the Moving Energy Initiative consortium announces.

About 80 per cent of the approximately 65 million people displaced by conflict have minimal access to energy for cooking and heating, and about 90 per cent have no access to electricity at all.

The projects include:

  • A solar-powered pump that will provide clean water to more than 9,500 refugees who face severe shortages in Burkina Faso’s Goudoubo camp.
  • Jordan’s Al Mafraq hospital, where hundreds of Syrian refugees and local residents receive care, will transition to more reliable solar energy, saving about 107 tons of CO2 emissions per year.
  • A solar ICT and learning hub in Kenya’s Kakuma camp will offer training on business and enterprise to camp residents and neighbouring communities, the majority of whom are aged between 18-24.

The projects draw on the expertise of consortium members Practical Action and Energy 4 Impact who have a track record providing energy in difficult environments.

The costs of providing energy in refugee camps are unnecessarily high, whether this is calculated in terms of money, health or the environment,

says Ben Good, CEO of Energy 4 Impact, one of the Moving Energy Initiative partners.

There are ways to improve energy access which also create livelihoods and entrepreneurial opportunities. The huge level of interest in our work and our previous research shows that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The value that could be created by increased humanitarian energy investment is enormous.

“This project will provide stable, reliable energy for our health clinics in Kakuma, while significantly improving our environmental impact in the community. The IRC is proud to support this initiative, which will provide numerous learning and economic opportunities for refugees and will improve our ability to provide them with crucial health services,” says Ryan Collins of The International Rescue Committee, IRC, who are one of the project partners in Kenya.

A Chatham House report found that sustainable market based solutions to energy access in camps can create employment and income-generating activities. The projects are also expected to fuel entrepreneurship, opening the potential for setting up businesses, small shops and restaurants. For example, vegetable growing zones watered by solar-powered pumps will provide an income for 150 households in Goudoubo camp.

“If we had enough energy, we would open restaurants that stay open at night, we would set up milk shops that use refrigerators and we would want to open shops that sell what you tend to buy at night,” says Fadimata Wallet Haibala, chair of the women refugees’ committee at Goudoubo camp.

All projects will train refugees and local staff to use and maintain these clean energy technologies.

This material has been funded by UK Aid from the UK government; however the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policies.

These low-carbon projects will be carried out by the following organisations:

Kenya, Kube Energy. The project will install solar systems at two primary health care clinics operated by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Kakuma camp in Kenya. These systems will enable IRC to reduce fossil fuel consumption by approximately 54,000 litres annually generating significant cost savings that will be reinvested in other healthcare services. The project will train local hospital staff on installing and maintaining the solar system and explore the possibility of connecting local business to the power supply.

Kenya, Crown Agents. The project will build a solar powered ICT and learning hub for the displaced community living within Kakuma Refugee Camp and its host community which will be used for skills training and provide additional commercial services and opportunities for local entrepreneurs. The project will also explore opportunities to use the Learning Hub as a location for selling pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar home systems to local residents.

Burkina Faso, HELP. The project aims to reduce the environmental impact of access to drinking water in the Goudoubo Refugee Camp in Burkina Faso, and improve refugees’ living conditions through access to electricity and income-generating activities with low-carbon energy solutions. It consists of three components; replacing two diesel-based generators powering water pumps with solar-powered pumps, developing a vegetable production area using solar-powered irrigation systems and creating an energy service centre connected to the national electricity supplier.

Jordan, Millennium Energy Industries. The project will provide solar solutions for Al Mafraq public hospital in Jordan including a solar thermal system in the hospital main building, renovation of the existing hot water infrastructure in the hospital and an electric PV system for a clinic building.

The projects will be implemented over the next 12 months during which tangible reductions in CO2 emissions, increased access to services, cost savings and livelihood opportunities will be monitored. The aim is to demonstrate the value of humanitarian energy projects – to practitioners so they initiate them, and to funders so they back them – and increase access to sustainable energy in humanitarian settings.

Project partners were chosen through an open and competitive process kicked off in February 2017 in Burkina Faso, Kenya and Jordan by the Moving Energy Initiative. Bidders were asked to demonstrate their ability to provide solutions that reduce fossil fuel consumption and increase access to energy in camps. The successful projects were chosen on the basis of the applicants’ ability to innovate in a humanitarian setting, as well as their track record and their approach to sustainability.

About the Moving Energy Initiative
The Moving Energy Initiative (MEI) is a ground-breaking international partnership working in Burkina Faso, Jordan and Kenya to sustainably meet the energy needs of refugees and displaced persons, and the communities who live around them. The MEI is a partnership between Chatham House, Energy 4 Impact, Practical Action, the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the UNHCR and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

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