Refugees in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp, home to over 160,000 people, will benefit from greater access to affordable, clean energy for domestic use and to power ‘microbusinesses’ in camps, the Moving Energy Initiative consortium announces today.
The gains expected from the projects include a solar-powered ICT and learning hub in the camp and health clinics serving refugees and the host community shifting from diesel to solar power. The projects are anticipated to show that renewable energy technologies can save money that can instead be reinvested in other vital services.
They will also show how solar power can be used for education services and to create opportunities for local entrepreneurs, such as mobile phone charging businesses and small shops. Refugees and local staff will be trained to use and maintain these clean energy technologies. The projects draw on the expertise of consortium members Practical Action and Energy4Impact 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.”
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 energy access in camps. The successful projects were chosen on the basis of their ability to innovate in a humanitarian setting, their track record and their approach to sustainability.
“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.
A Chatham House report found that sustainable market based solutions to energy access in camps can create employment and income-generating activities. It can also reduce host-refugee tensions and dependency on short-term humanitarian aid.
“If we get electricity, then those who attack people [in the dark] would be deterred. They could be ‘seen off’ easily. I cook with firewood. There is no charcoal. It is what the UN allots it to me but it’s little. It’s only a handful,” says Rachel Angeth, a South Sudanese resident of Kakuma camp.
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.
About the projects
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 vital services across Kakuma. The project will train local hospital staff on installing and maintaining the solar system and explore the possibility of connecting local businesses 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.
The project will be implemented over the next 12 months during which tangible reductions in CO2 emissions, increased access to services and livelihood opportunities will be monitored. The project aims to spur a ‘demonstration effect’ encouraging others in the sector to shift towards sustainable energy and increased energy access in displacement contexts.
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 UNHCR and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). The programme is funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID).
For more information, contact Jerry Abuga on Jerry.Abuga@energy4impact.org or visit https://mei.chathamhouse.org