A ten million Euro investment over the next three years will bring renewable energy to refugees and their host communities’ homes, schools, clinics and businesses.
The project in Rwanda and Jordan will create access to off-grid, renewable energy for thousands of displaced people.It will enable them to start businesses, improve their health and education, save time and will contribute to helping people in camps gain economic independence and overcome dependence on aid.
It will be funded by the IKEA Foundation and implemented by Practical Action and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in three camps in Rwanda and Irbid city in Jordan, where people fleeing conflict and civil unrest in Syria and the DR Congo have settled.
Experts from UNHCR, Practical Action and its implementing partner the Norwegian Refugee Council will work with refugee entrepreneurs, private energy companies, host communities, refugee families and national governments.
Initially, they will identify what problems refugees face and potential solutions to them. They will then help camp authorities and displaced communities implement them whilst ensuring the project will have significant long-term impact.
Practical Action CEO Paul Smith Lomas said: “This is a fantastic example of the way in which aid should be delivered for long-term benefit. We know the vast majority of people want to take control of their lives and provide for their families, but very often they simply don’t have the tools, skills or opportunity to do so.
“This project is typical of the way in which Practical Action works. We find out what people need and work with them to develop solutions that will free them from poverty. In this case, by working in this partnership, we believe we’ll find the best and most sustainable solutions.
“Truly great development work only happens when solutions to problems can be replicated by other actors such as national governments, the private sector and the communities themselves, without the need for further input from charities like Practical Action, so that ultimately millions benefit. This is what we want to achieve from this project.”
The project will bring renewable energy for street and home lighting, cooking and powering tools and appliances, allowing entrepreneurs to flourish.
The situations refugees in Jordan and Rwanda find themselves in are vastly different, but the project will demonstrate how access to energy can transform people’s lives, whatever their circumstances.
Access to safe and reliable energy for everyone is one of the Sustainable Development Goals agreed by global leaders. Without energy, refugees struggle to rebuild their lives and remain reliant on aid.
UNHCR Chief, Private Partnerships and Philanthropy a.i. Tapio Vahtola said: “The Renewable Energy for Refugees project shows how new approaches and new strategies can mobilise an effective response and pursue sustainable solutions to forced displacement.
“To give refugees access to clean and affordable energy, to give them an opportunity to change their future for the better, we need to work together. Through individuals, NGOs, private sector, governmental institutions and UN agencies drawing on complementary skills and contributing with funding, technical expertise, creativity, and innovation.”