The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) held their second annual Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Humanitarian Training in Kampala, Uganda on July 27-30 2015, welcoming more than 90 participants from 25 countries. A crucial component of the training was to bring together humanitarian NGO field staff, UN agencies, energy organizations, and refugee leaders to discuss the needs and best approaches for safe fuel and energy for cooking and lighting in crisis settings.
The first two days of the training were classroom-based, and included more than 24 in-depth sessions and group discussions on cookstoves, lighting technology, alternative fuel options, forestry assessments, public-private energy partnerships, gender based violence, procurement logistics and distribution, monitoring and evaluation, and developing long-term energy strategies for crisis-affected communities. For those participants that were new to energy in humanitarian settings, the training also included courses on introductory concepts on energy and humanitarian response.
The Alliance and UNHCR were particularly honored to welcome five refugee leaders to the workshop, who served as community representatives for four camps and Kampala’s urban refugee population. During a panel on refugee leaders’ perspectives, humanitarian staff and energy representatives heard directly from these leaders about the need for energy among displaced communities, and some of the solutions that have proved most promising. Queen Candia, the chairwoman of Oliji camp, reported that her family successfully uses biogas for cooking that is freely generated by the waste of their cows. She had also helped to build institutional cookstoves in schools and a health center to reduce fuel expenditures and save the community money.
According to Halima Mohammed, a youth ambassador and leader in UNHCR’s Nakivale camp, the very inclusion of refugee community leaders in the training was empowering. She said, “In the camps we think they don’t think we are people, but being here [at the Alliance training], I learned that you think everyone has a talent and something to contribute. We can share our minds.”
Another highlight of the workshop were the site visits to improved cookstove and fuel factories and testing laboratories that took place on July 29. Business owners and scientists from Ugastove, Green Heat Ltd., Kingfire Energy Solutions LTD, and CIRCODU welcomed the SAFE workshop participants to view production and testing of energy products and to learn more about business models and effective approaches to service delivery.
On the final day, participants in the SAFE training worked together with colleagues working in the same countries to identify challenges for energy access in humanitarian settings and to develop a strategy to improve energy access for refugees, internally displaced people, and other crisis-affected populations. Each organization identified specific areas for which they could take responsibility, and participants discussed key activities that were needed.
As Joan Sang of World Vision Kenya stated, “the Alliance training on Safe Access to Fuel and Energy in Humanitarian Settings was an eye opener, and showed us how to get started addressing energy access in emergencies. The case studies and tools were incredibly useful, and I now feel confident that we can create an extraordinary project in Kenya.”
To learn more about the 2015 SAFE Humanitarian Workshop, read the workshop report.