Clean Energy is Life
Women’s Refugee Commission
The Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC) put cooking fuel and energy on the humanitarian agenda when it became clear that the daily tasks refugee women must do to survive, including gathering cooking fuel, expose them to rape and other violence.
In displacement settings, food rations typically must be cooked in order to be eaten, but cooking fuel is rarely provided. Women and girls leave the relative safety of camps to collect firewood – sometimes searching up to eight hours a day. They are targeted by armed groups or sometimes by men from host communities, frustrated by the competition for scarce local resources.
WRC contributed unprecedented research on the implications of firewood collection in refugee settings. In 2007, the organization spearheaded the creation of the interagency Task Force on Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE), which produced and widely distributed the first-ever guidance on safe access to energy in humanitarian settings.
SAFE promotes a holistic and multisectoral approach to cooking fuel and energy needs. It combines improved technologies and alternative fuels to reduce the risk of violence to women and girls, as well as safe livelihood activities and environmental management and rehabilitation.
WRC advocates for the humanitarian community to implement SAFE as a standard part of emergency response and gender-based violence prevention. The project continues to test economically and environmentally sustainable cookstoves and fuels that could be scaled up in humanitarian settings.
WRC co-chairs the SAFE Global Interagency Steering Committee, along with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. As a member of UNHCR’s SAFE Advisory Board, WRC helped UNHCR to develop its new global SAFE strategy and continues to provide expert guidance, particularly on the protection and gender aspects of SAFE