Conducting Baseline Assessment Bonga Camp (c) Project Gaia
© Project Gaia

Energy Expert Roster

As part of its mission to facilitate a more coordinated, predictable, timely, and effective response to the fuel and energy needs of crisis-affected populations, the SAFE Humanitarian Working Group established a database of deployable humanitarian and technology experts in 2016 to help strengthen existing capacity and programs for access to energy and clean and efficient energy technologies for heating, lighting, cooking, and powering to refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other crisis-affected people. Members of the Energy Roster can be deployed in the initial stages of sudden-onset emergencies, as well as in protracted or recurring humanitarian situations, to support the Humanitarian Coordinator, Humanitarian Country Teams, UN agencies, cluster leads, NGOs, and governments.

Among other activities, roster experts can:

  • Conduct rapid assessments of energy needs and recommend context-appropriate solutions;
  • Facilitate the procurement of safe and sustainable fuel and energy technologies, including local producers;
  • Provide training on the installation, use, maintenance, and benefits of energy products such as improved cookstoves and solar lighting; and
  • Develop energy strategies that incorporate considerations for the health, safety, livelihoods, and well-being of crisis-affected people – especially women and children – and their surrounding environment.

Status

Since 2016, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves has been working with NORCAP, the expert deployment capacity of the Norwegian Refugee Council, to transition the administration of the SAFE roster to NORCAP, which has deployed experts in various areas to more than 9,000 missions worldwide. We are very pleased to share that the creation and expansion of the Energy Roster within NORCAP has been approved and funded as of May, 2018. Establishment of the Roster within NORCAP will be a 3-year process, during which time the SAFE Working Group will not be recruiting additional experts. We will communicate updates and opportunities on our Jobs page and through the SAFE Newsletter

Background

Well-trained and coordinated staff who provide programmatic and technical support to energy projects is a critical gap in humanitarian assistance. Despite its importance, energy access is often left out of humanitarian strategies for health, protection, food security, shelter, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). For example, most of the food provided by humanitarian agencies must be cooked before it can be eaten, but efficient cookstoves and fuel are rarely provided, leading women and children to risk their safety to collect wood outside the camp limits. Lack of lighting increases refugees’ vulnerability to physical injury or attack when navigating camps after dark, and limits critical livelihood and education activities. Without power to charge mobile phones or supply health centers, crisis-affected people cannot reach their loved ones or call for help in emergencies, and crucial medications and vaccines cannot be refrigerated. Without adequate heating in shelters, families can suffer in harsh winter conditions.

Consequently, crisis-affected people are forced to resort to desperate strategies to meet their energy needs, such as selling food rations for cooking fuel or taking out loans. Women and children often risk their safety, health, and sometimes their lives, to search for and collect firewood in order to cook food over smoky, polluting open fires. In many cases, displaced women walk for hours to find firewood and have to carry heavy loads back to camp, which puts them at risk for physical and sexual attack, dehydration, and physical injuries. Lack of lighting further increases women’s vulnerability when navigating camps to use latrines and other services at night.

The members of the SAFE Humanitarian Working Group envision a world in which all crisis-affected populations are able to satisfy their fuel and energy needs for cooking, heating, lighting, and powering in a safe and sustainable manner, without fear or risk to their health, well-being, and personal security. Safe and sustainable access to energy is increasingly being recognized as a human right – essential for the safety, well-being, and productivity of the people the humanitarian community serves. It is also essential for social and economic development, offering opportunities for improved lives and economic progress; improving health outcomes; and driving gender equality.

Because of the cross-cutting nature of energy use and access, the SAFE Humanitarian Working Group seeks to combine improved technologies, alternative fuels, and livelihood and environmental activities to:

  • Provide emergency support for cooking, lighting, heating, and powering needs to ensure the safety and well-being of displaced people, especially women and girls, who are typically the most vulnerable during crises;
  • Help to shift communities away from dangerous and destructive dependence on biomass fuel and towards healthier and more sustainable options;
  • Reduce exposure to the risk of gender-based violence and other threats faced primarily by women and girls during firewood collection and while navigating communal areas camps at night;
  • Reduce the negative health impacts of household air pollution from burning solid fuels in enclosed spaces for cooking, lighting, and/or heating purposes; and
  • Mitigate environmental degradation through agroforestry activities and reduced biomass consumption, contributing to disaster risk reduction and long-term food security.

The availability of programmatic and technical staff to support humanitarian actors in implementing energy solutions is vital to achieving these goals. In addition to implementing safe and sustainable energy strategies, these experts can provide crucial training to crisis-affected people and humanitarian actors on the proper use, maintenance, and capabilities of various technologies, as well as identify opportunities to transform short term solutions into long term income-generating activities, such as locally producing improved cookstoves or firewood alternatives. These activities build the capacity of crisis-affected communities to cope with future disasters and encourage humanitarian actors to consider longer-term strategies.