Clean Energy is Life
UNHCR Energy & Environment Unit
Today, there are an estimated 13 million refugees under UNHCR’s care around the world - half of whom are children. Many have no choice but to live in refugee camps, where the absence of energy resources such as lighting and fuel often leads to negative impacts on safety, health, education and livelihoods. Without illuminated streets and communal areas, refugees, particularly women and children face significant risk of assault and harassment when they move about the camp at night, such as on their way to the latrines. Children are less likely to study after dark without access to lighting. Refugees cannot take advantage of the evenings to work and keep businesses open. Without fuel to cook, refugee women and children spend up to 7 hours per day collecting firewood, exposing themselves to rape and assault.
In 2014, UNHCR formally launched a five year global strategy for Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) to enable refugees and other persons of concern to have regular and reliable access to fuel and energy without threat to their lives or well-being. The aim to improve the quality of life in refugee camps and in hosting communities by making the physical environment safer, reducing the hours spent collecting firewood and supporting economic and educational opportunities.
With an initial focus on energy needs in camp situations, notably for cooking and lighting at night, the SAFE (Safe Access to Fuel and Energy) strategy aims to ensure that by 2018:
- At least 80% of refugee households are equipped with an improved and fuel efficient stove.
- For households that must collect fuel, to reduce the frequency and time spent for collection by 30-50%.
- At least 80% of refugee households are equipped with a solar lantern, focusing on those with children of school age so they can study at night.
- At least 50% of public spaces in camps are equipped with solar street lights, and residents can benefit from better security at night.
In the first two years, the strategy will provide some 175,000 refugees with stoves and another 150,000 with solar-powered lighting. In addition, 2,000 solar-powered street lights will be installed in households and communal areas.
UNHCR is determined to make SAFE a pillar of its support to create a dignified and productive life for refugees.