The Role of Cooking in Addressing Gender-Based Violence in Humanitarian Settings (c)

Project Highlight

Lighting and cooking project in Sudan
To address the energy needs of refugees in Sudan, UNHCR created an integrated lighting and cooking program that included trainings and provision of solar lanterns, LPG, fuel-efficient stoves, and solar street lights.

About SAFE

The SAFE Humanitarian Working Group is a consortium of humanitarian agencies and NGOs whose mission is to facilitate a more coordinated, predictable, timely, and effective response to the fuel and energy needs of crisis-affected populations.

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History of SAFE

In March 2007, the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee Task Force on Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy (IASC Task Force on SAFE) was established 'to reduce exposure to violence, contribute to the protection of and ease the burden on those populations collecting wood in humanitarian settings worldwide, through solutions which will promote safe access to appropriate energy and reduce environmental impacts while ensuring accountability.'

The task force was co-chaired by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UN World Food Programme (WFP), and the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC). Fourteen other IASC members and non-member agencies participated in the task force to help create a formal commitment to addressing the pressing needs and challenges relating to cooking fuel in humanitarian settings. Over the course of two years from 2007-2009, the task force worked to place cooking energy needs on the map and create guidance material on how to develop a coordinated, multi-sectoral fuel strategy for humanitarian settings. Participation of numerous agencies with various areas of expertise was meant to ensure responses across multiple sectors of invention, as well as long-term sustainability and implementation.

The SAFE task force created two critical tools for the humanitarian system aimed at ensuring the predictable development of holistic fuel strategies in diverse regions around the world:

  • SAFE Matrix on Agency Roles and Responsibilities
    The Matrix is a framework for addressing cooking fuel needs in emergency and protracted response settings. It sets out who (which agency and/or cluster) is responsible for what (which fuel-related activities), and when (emergency preparedness and contingency planning; acute emergency; and protracted crises, transition and durable solutions).
  • SAFE Decision Tree Diagram
    The Decision Tree outlines factors affecting the choice of fuel strategy in humanitarian settings to help determine which cooking fuel options will be most appropriate in diverse response settings.

Both tools reflect the need for humanitarian actors to coordinate their fuel-related activities across all eight traditional response sectors. By doing so, each sector can play its part to ensure that displaced women and girls have safe access to one of their most basic needs—cooking fuel—from the start of every emergency.

Today, SAFE is led by the SAFE Humanitarian Working Group, a consortium of key partners including FAO, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, and Women's Refugee Commission, among others.

Safe and sustainable access to energy is increasingly recognized as a human right—essential for the safety, well-being, and productivity of the people that the humanitarian community serves. It is also essential for social and economic development, offering opportunity for improved lives and economic progress. SAFE formally expanded in early 2014 to become Safe Access to Fuel and Energy, thereby incorporating humanitarian energy needs more broadly.