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Exploring the private sector’s role in energy provision for refugees


The Moving Energy Initiative highlighted opportunities for market-based approaches to energy access challenges in humanitarian contexts at the SAFE Humanitarian Workshop in Kigali, Rwanda.

SAFE (Safe Access to Fuel and Energy), the humanitarian working group whose mission is to facilitate a coordinated and effective response to the fuel and energy needs of crisis-affected populations, held a workshop in Rwanda between 6-8 December to teach humanitarian field implementers how to incorporate energy access into humanitarian projects.

Hosted by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Sustainable Energy Technologies for Food Security (SET4Food), the event was also an opportunity for the wide variety of stakeholders in the humanitarian energy space to exchange knowledge, share lessons learned, and develop best practices.

The Moving Energy Initiative presented in the session "Market-based Approaches: Transcending the Humanitarian Development Divide" on Day 3. The programme Manager’s Laura Patel shared some of the findings from the research phase of the programme, in particular the rational for engaging with the private sector and the opportunities for market based approaches to providing energy solutions to refugees and host communities.

Moving away from free hand outs towards the development of sustainable business models can help to achieve cost and operational efficiencies by shifting to alternative technologies and by optimizing energy-access supply chains. Private sector has the expertise and incentive to improve access to energy products and services, the ability to scale and replicate solutions and could support the growth of local, sustainable, clean-energy markets within refugee and host communities. However there is a need to support the development of strategic partnerships with the private sector and humanitarian agencies and to that solutions are appropriate and sensitive to the context.

- explains Laura Patel.

Other session at the workshop provided overviews of energy technologies for cooking, lighting and heating as well as highlighting case studies of energy interventions, coordination of emergency response and monitoring and evaluation frameworks.

The Moving Energy Initiative (MEI) is a collaboration between Energy 4 Impact, Chatham House, Practical Action Consulting, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It is funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID).