Preparation Guide for a Sustainable Energy Project in Refugee Settings

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Collecting Firewood.JPG

The world is now facing a worldwide crisis. Currently, there are more people in need and for longer periods of time. According to UNHCR (2016) there were 65,3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide in 2015; and the average waiting period for a refugee is between 17 years. [1]The increment of displaced population around the world have also incremented the energy demand and pressure on resources in the hosting countries, as well as the efficient use of budget by the international community. Most of the refugees living in refugee settlements (RS) managed by humanitarian organizations do not have access to energy or are not connected to gas and power supplies [2]. This population rely on traditional biomass and kerosene for cooking and lighting, which have bad impacts on the environment and their health[3].

Access to energy is a basic human need. It is recognized by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which aim to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030 (Goal 7).[3] Basic energy needs must be met to ensure the nutrition and protection of refugees, as well as to manage the camps efficiently. Energy services such as light, power, heat, cooling and mobility are required for activities such as water treatment, sanitation, cooking, upholding livable temperatures, running schools and medical centers, public lighting, electricity for lighting households communication and productive/economic activities.[2]

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Challenges of Sustainable Energy Provision - Linking Aid Interventions with Sustainable Development

Issues such as the uncertainty of duration of refugee camps, for planning a successful transition towards self-reliance of the population are dilemmas for the humanitarian and development work. Different approaches exist between the immediate responses for emergencies provided by humanitarian agencies and middle to long-term actions implemented by development actors to support reconstruction efforts. At the first stages of a crisis, the most immediate needs have to be covered in the most fast and efficient way for direct impacts. Later on, development actors approach crisis with a mandate of transitional assistance, aiming for outcomes in the mid to long-term and working through governments and other stakeholders such as the private sector.

Long term planning of energy access services has differential elements compared to those encountered in poor rural settings (although there are lessons learned from these experiences). Within the differential elements, the most relevant are political stability and legal status of the population (mobility and work permits), possible conflicts for resources with the hosting communities, the disconnection of the camps with markets due to poor infrastructure, the lack of clear governance structures within the camps, among others. This implies that energy provision has to interact, besides with relief activities, also with aspects of development such as governance and the support of national policies, institutional strengthening, risk management and market creation and reconstruction. Furthermore, giving the permanent nature of some RS, it also requires to adapt with policies on labor permits and the empowerment of the affected population to sustain their own livelihoods (UNDP 2016). That means linking aspects of energy provision for social infrastructures and for productive uses, to set and to encourage a possible energy market system.

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Energy Access in Refugee Settings (RS)

According to Lahn and Grafham (2015), there is a nexus between energy provision and other areas of humanitarian services, such as water, sanitation, food, health and education.[2] Furthermore, effective energy management requires the expertise, practices, materials and governance involved in delivering larger services from development. The latter requires commitments to a long-term planning and the participation of various stakeholders, including the local authorities and communities. Unfortunately, the energy topic in the humanitarian sector is generally overlooked in the planning phases.

The challenges for providing energy during the first stages of a crisis and a sustainable energy access in the long-term are numerous. The acute nature of humanitarian assistance in the relief phase is one of the factors that impede long-term-planning. Energy projects tend to be larger in scale for the development sector and sometimes some key stakeholders are at the national level when the needs of the displaced population should be tackled at the local level. The approach of energy provision in RS has been commonly implemented as short-term deliverables and other structural factors, such as market reconstruction have not been taken into account. As Lahn & Grafham (2015) describe, energy provision can have problematic overlaps; many displaced people face challenges of poverty and energy access similar to those encountered by host populations. Furthermore, political will plays a major role in setting the response for energy because the governments don’t think that the refugee camps could be semi-permanent.[2].

A series of guidelines have been developed regarding energy provision in refugee settings, especially for wood fuel provision and Improved Cook Stoves (ICS). However, this guide also calls attention into possible interventions of sustainable energy provision for Social Infrastructures and Productive uses of energy and its intersections to build energy market systems.

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After a research carried on to investigate: How energy provision in RS could be improved having into account a holistic approach of linking relief and development? The literature showed that the concepts of energy access (Poverty Basic Energy Services POBES, Energy for Social Infrastructures ESI, and Productive Uses of Energy PUE) can intersect with the concepts of Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD) as a way to analyze the type of actions needed to connect short, mid and long-term action. A framework of analysis is proposed to show the interrelations present between the basic provisions of energy in the short term (relief) while addressing more complex responses in the mid and long term (rehabilitation, education, and health facilities and livelihoods empowerment).

The case revision and the respondents’ reflections illustrate that:

  • it is important to act differently to protracted crises because the needs vary with time as the acute phase passes.
  • clarifying the local government position on refugees and aligning policy planning interest with energy provision in RS, facilitates long-term planning actions for sustainable solutions with developmental outcomes.
  • projects that include ESI and PUE are easier to implement and have a greater probability of developmental outcomes that can encourage livelihoods opportunities for the refugees and host communities. Therefore the private sector should be incentivized to invest in Energy Market Systems, and increases the acceptance of hosting governments for long term planning.

This guide follows the logic of identifying intersections between household energy access, social infrastructures and productive uses of energy in refugee settings to provide energy in relief while improving long term planning and sustainability. It identifies existing tools for assessment of energy consumption in the categories made for refugee settings and others.

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The aim of this guide is to provide the user a series of steps to identify the most relevant information and first actions on stakeholder’s coordination needed to explore the possibilities of an intervention of sustainable energy provision in a refugee setting.

Useful Definitions:

Basic Energy Access (Household level)

According to World Energy Outlook, Modern energy access is defined as, “a household having reliable and affordable access to clean cooking facilities, a first connection to electricity and then an increasing level of electricity consumption over time to reach the regional average”.

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Energy for Social Infrastructures(ESI)

ESI is defined as the provision of energy for community services contributing to well-being, e.g. energy for health centers and schools, communal street lighting or communal water pumps.[4] An improvement in the power supply can make a contribution to save lives and improved health care and education at the same time.[4]

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Productive Uses of Energy (PUE)

Productive uses of energy are those which increase income or productivity; “(…) agricultural, commercial and industrial activities involving electricity services as a direct input to the production of goods or provision of services” (Brüderle et al. 2011:13). PUE could be associated with agro-processing, basic industries such as carpentry, tailoring, welding and looming, refrigeration or mobiles charging. (Brüderle et al. 2011) According to Bellanca et al (2013), the need to plan beyond lighting and cooking towards productive usage of energy has been overlooked by practitioners. The expert argues that access to energy should be seen as the beginning of a process to stimulate several impacts for productive uses as well as for welfare-improving services. Also, she recalls on the importance of developing appropriate productive uses of energy trough seed capital, capacity building and technology transfer. Improved provision of basic energy services contributes to independence and self-determination of the population’s living conditions.

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Linking Relief - Rehabilitation and Development

According to the European parliament policy briefing,: “The basic idea of LRRD is to link short-term relief measures with longer term development programmes in order to create synergies and provide a more sustainable response to crisis situations”.

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General Assessment of the Refugee Setting Type

It is important to determine the type of refugee setting that you are investigating in order to develop an adequate approach of energy supply.

According to (Lahn & Grafham 2015) there are the following type of settlements; collective center, reception/transit camp, self-settled camp and planned/managed camp. There are important differences regarding a managed camp and a self-settle camp that can influence the approach taking for energy provision:[2]


Planned Camp


1. Freedom of movement

More restricted

Movement to earn livelihood outside the settlement

2. Mode of assistance

Based on relief handouts and food distribution with little possibility for refugees to engage in subsistence generally. Only limited income-generating programmes are permitted.

Self-settled refugees tend to be more integrated into the local economy, with or without governmental permission.

3. Issues of governance

Generally controlled with participation of local governments and international agencies

Spontaneous decision making mechanisms with autonomous voices and organizations

4. Temporality

Temporary shelter structures (tends)

Tends to have more “permanent” shelter structures

5. Population size

Population Fluidity. Major influx and also people going out due to asylum cases.

Tends to be lower on population

based on: (Schmidt ND)

It is important to decide whether relief handouts programmes should be taken into account and how this could be sustainable, especially for a recently made planned camp. Generally collective centers can have diesel based generators that can be improved with solar hybrid generators (More info on the ESU section). Energy provision in self-settled camps is more difficult to implement because of the legal status and most of the interventions are based on free deliverables. This guide tends to give guidelines for managed camps.

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Assessing the Time Horizon of the RS

The time horizon is defined as:

- Starting point: Less than a year of officially settling the camp

- Middle: 1 year to 3 years

- Long-term settlement: More than 3 years

Depending on the type of setting and the time line, different energy needs emerge. If a refugee setting is at the starting point, energy for cooking, heating (depending on the location) and basic lighting is needed to guarantee survival. However, depending on the ‘energy expectations’ of the refugee population, which lays on their cultural background and costumes; there is more or less electricity demand. For example, Syrian refugees that had access to electricity within their cities are more use to handle electrical appliances on their daily lives compare to refugees from Eastern Africa. At a later stage, the energy needs increase. Access to services such as health and education within semi-permanent structures is needed for uses such as cooling vaccines, run operation rooms and have IT access. In the longer term, electricity for productive uses is important to support self-reliance and entrepreneurship of the displaced populations. However, practitioners and energy experts agreed that including the energy aspect during the planning phases of a refugee camp since the beginning is recommendable for sustainable provision.

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Tools for Context Assessment

Rapid Site Assessment Tool (USAID):

It is a tool designed by USAID to develop a concept paper with prospective activities and feasibility regarding a given project of Fuel-Efficient Stoves. The tool provides an interesting entry point of the questions needed for background information, objectives and stove-specific information. For more information see page 8 of USAID (2010) Fuel-efficient stove programs in humanitarian settings: an implementer’s toolkit. P 8.

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Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Toolbox

It is a tool for supporting field-based actors to assess wood fuel resources and energy needs in displacement settings.

The step by step tutorial presented by this toolbox presents a way to identify the targeted population and social units (Point 4.2.) It mentions a worksheet entitled ‘Population and social units’, which is used to enter the data on the number and average size of households, schools, clinics and other social units which provide services in the targeted area.

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Political and Economic Structures in the Camp

To gain contextual information on the RS it is important to collect information about the RS’ logistics, the type of governance structures regarding management and organization and the different dynamics and relation between the actors living in the camp.

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USAID Site Survey (P.11, 16)

The model aims to capture the perception of the leaders within the camp and can be connected to other information previously gathered from other organizations’ reports. This tool has 6 sections with the general objective to gain an idea of the site specific conditions:

  • Site specifics (Population features, shelter types, weather conditions)
  • Local logistics (Means of transport, infrastructure access to the RS, nearby natural resources)
  • Market (Skills and services available, cooking stoves market, fuel cost)
  • Local camp/settlement/community management (Governance structure, rules, leadership)
  • Other FES activities (Existing programmes)
  • Cooking fuel

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Decision Tree Diagram for Choosing a Cooking Fuel Strategy in Protracted Settings - Assessments 1 and 2

This tool has the objective to provide practical guidance on developing effective coordination and response mechanisms for the collection, supply and use of household energy in protracted settings. Within this it was created a decision tree diagram on factors affecting choice of fuel strategy in humanitarian settings. This model proposes 2 paths of action depending on the availability of the resources: Patrols trough local authorities or direct provision. Aspects to take into account are: secure physical infrastructure, sustainability of fuel source, safe storage options, familiarity of users and strong market for resale. Particularly, it proposes 2 related contextual assessments required for choosing a cooking fuel strategy as follows:

  • Availability of fuel (Materials, environment and funds) and
  • Access to fuel (Risk associated with collection production, transport infrastructure, laws regulations, access to land and relations with host)

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Assessing Socio-political Factors

The experiences shared by practitioners show that it is very important to investigate where the local governments stand on the refugee situation. The political will of the authorities is critical to estimate the type of actions that can be implemented and the degree of ownership that can exist as an outcome of the project.

Some governments are prone to receive help from humanitarian and development actors to implement sustainable energy solutions while, other perceived it as a way to legitimize refugee settings for longer periods of time.[2] An example of this is the Ugandan approach to the refugees, which is very open for them to integrate to their society. As soon as a refugee person arrives to the country they are able to work legally. In contrast, the Kenyan government has announced closing down some of their camps to repatriate the refugee population.

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Local Institutions and Local Policy

In order to guarantee the sustainability of the energy supply measures, it is important to validate the priorities (regarding 'refugees’ assistance and energy provision) and capabilities of the local governments. This will build a co-benefit dynamic where national energy goals of energy access at the national level are supported and the humanitarian needs are fulfilled, which will increase the acceptance of the projects.

It is adequate to know the existing local governmental agencies to manage the refugees’ policy and their capabilities

It is important to ask:

  1. Is there a local agency to support 'refugees’ needs in the hosting country?
  2. What are its mandate and objectives?
  3. Is the agency well-funded?
  4. What is the experience and capabilities to implement projects?
  5. Under which regulation/policy is implementing its mandate?
  6. What is the legal ground of the refugee population in the context?

In the same direction it is important to coordinate with the local institutions in charge of energy services, especially regarding energy access in rural and poor settings and investigate whether

  1. Does an institution manage energy access planning?
  2. What is its mandate and objectives?
  3. Is the agency well-funded?
  4. What is the experience and capabilities to implement projects?
  5. Under which regulation/policy is implementing its mandate?
  6. What are the capacities of local energy service providers?
  7. How do the local energy markets function?
  8. Are there national sustainable energy strategies?
  9. Is there a need to reach energy access within the hosting country?
  10. Are the public infrastructures being shared with local residents and refugees?

Other guiding questions to understand the political legitimacy of the stakeholders are the ones formulated on the article Linking Relief, Rehabilitation Difficult Places:

  1. Over the long term, does the relationship with local authorities bring about positive change in the lives of affected people?
  2. Do we understand any possible negative impacts of establishing relationships with particular institutions? Are mechanisms in place for monitoring this and could the risks be mitigated?
  3. To what extent are partner institutions able to serve affected people in the long term, and with what legitimacy?
  4. Are people’s links with the institutions that are important and meaningful to them in the longer term being supported (e.g. local or central government, traditional authorities, informal structures)?

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The Biomass Energy Sector Planning Guide 

Outlines the steps for a gradual improvement in the management of sustainable biomass energy sector governance. It presents a step by step guide to understand governance structures of the biomass energy sector and highlights the importance of coordination between stakeholders from different sectors participating. It is organized as a process of coordination that requires a lead institution. Stages 1 to 3 (pp 22-41) offer a special use for the purpose of understanding the energy governance in the biomass sector. These stages give guidelines to assess the political and policy environment, conduct a stakeholder analysis, compose a coordination structure, establish the baseline supply and demand and the baseline sector data.

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Survey of International Activities in Energy Access and Electrification

This survey is prepared by the division for sustainable development, department of economic and social affairs of the United Nations. It presents a list of country projects, programmes, and policies pertaining to rural access. It is useful to identify laws, feed in tariffs and projects present in the country were programmes will be held.

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Solar Farm in Jordan

The following table provides an example of good practice for coordination between humanitarian agencies and the hosting government of Jordan regarding energy access in Azraq.

Solar Farm in Jordan Azraq. April Timeline: 2014 - present+ 2 years [5]





Lessons learned

Population 54,605.

Opened by UNHCR and Jordanian government

Limited connection to the national grid

Electricity is provided to the base camp

Diesel generation for power facilities and NGO’s

Controlled environment with little economic activity and low income [5]

Mustaqbal – private Jordanian company constructor partnership with UNHCR and the IKEA Foundation.

IKEA provides capital

UNHCR expect the first 2 MW of capacity to be completed in October 2016.

Intended market based approach to raison use.

The energy generated by the solar farm will feed the national grid, diminishing energy demands overflows.

Refugees are been trained and hired to build the solar farm

Sustainability of financing

Transience of residence

Lack of payment ability

“Jordanian authorities may reject smart metering systems on the basis that they make the population appear more permanent”.[5]

Collecting money needs a special permit and has to be managed by the local electrical companies.

Prepaid metering also needs institutional arrangement and a legitimate partner willing to participate.

Provide electricity for refugees, provide a lasting legacy for local populations, and reduce pressure on the electricity grid.

“The cost of the amount of electricity generated by the farm and fed back into the grid will be deducted from Azraq camp’s electricity bill” [5]

3 highly qualified Jordanians employed and 20 Syrians[5]

Government committed to 12 hours of electricity supply to the camps (Hammed Ziadé)

Negotiate with the hosting governments, aligning with their priorities in order to ensure that humanitarian interventions can benefit hosting countries’ development goals.

EMS (Metering installations) has a highly political factor that has to be negotiated involving the local authorities into the most adequate solution between a semi-permanent structure and a reliable energy provision

Assessments of private contractors’ capacities is necessary

Lack of clarity in renewable energy regulation is a constraint for implementation on refugee settings

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Energy Needs and Capacities Assessment

The assessment of energy needs in RS is a difficult task due to the varied nature of energy consumption, the mobility of the population coming in and out of the RS and the lack of coordination among agencies that collect data on this regards. Analyst such as Hammock and Lautz (1996) mention that a way for implementing measures in the short term, and contribute to sustainability and ownership, is to make capacities assessment at the same time that the needs assessment is being conducted. It is a way to identify the users’ preferences and to match the solutions with the population’s capacities to adopt them and implementing it in a sustainable way. This helps to clarify the existing local skills and to prevent possible barriers from some technologies. However, it can be time and resources demanding. In that sense Lahn & Grafham (2015), also suggest that in this stage displaced households’ income should be made, in order to build the knowledge on cost-benefit evaluations needed for capital investment in energy.[6]

The following are tools for energy needs assessment developed by different actors:

Assessing Wood Fuel Supply and Demand in Displacement Settings. Technical handbook.

This manual provides guidelines and tools for an assessment of the dynamics of wood fuel supply and demand in emergency and protracted refugee camps. The proposed methodology presents global data sources that are applicable in any country, but which are tailored for data collection under the specific conditions and settings found in and around displacement camps. It consist in four integrated components: a manual; free open source software for satellite image processing; an Excel-based toolbox developed to support the collection and analysis of field data; and, where possible, in-country support to help ensure the adaptability and adaptability of the proposed approach.[1]

The manual proposes the following steps for assessing wood fuel supply and demand:

Assessing Wood Fuel Demand (See Page 4)

Research design and sampling strategy
Step 1: Determine the population and social units 5
Step 2: Assess energy consumption 6
Step 3: Screen technologies and assess local practices for cooking 8
Step 4: Assess the multi-sectoral challenges to access and use of woodfuel 9

Assessing fuel supply. See Page 10.

Step 1: Define the sources of woodfuel
Step 2: Map the distribution of woodfuel resources
Step 3: Estimate stocks
Step 4: Assess stock change

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Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Toolbox

The toolbox shows a method to implement the baseline assessment of energy consumption in displacement settings with an emphasis on wood fuel. It mentions how the consumption varies because of the specific site factors, such as, availability and quantity of wood and other energy resources, type and quantity of food cooked, cooking practices, among others. It provides a worksheet model to determine the average consumption of energy among categories such as households, clinic, schools, administration centers and others. See pages 3 and 4.

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Household Survey template P.27 USAID

This template covers a range of information important to understand detailed information on the household level about cooking practices and fuels used. It provides a guide to select the sample and for its implementation. It has the following sections:

  • General information
  • Meals
  • Cooking practices
  • Stove use
  • Fuel consumption

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Decision Tree Diagram for Choosing a Cooking Fuel Strategy in Protracted Settings. Assessment 3

The IASC Task Force SAFE provides comprehensive factors to take into account while doing an assessment of the energy need and consumption of the population in protracted crises.

The use of fuels is the third point of its factors for assessment. It includes aspects such as cultural considerations, health, safety and impact during use; and possibilities for using fuels as livelihoods activity. In the latter, according to the decision tree diagram is important to undertake market and user surveys. For the factor of cultural considerations it is important to take a participatory assessment e.g. focus group. Additional considerations regarding possible decisions are explore in the tool.

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Toolbox for Energy Assessments in Refugee Settlements and Host Communities

This “Toolbox for Energy Assessments in Refugee Settlements and Host Communities” is a contribution of GIZ Energising Development (EnDev) Uganda to the improvement and harmonization of efforts to assess the energy situation in refugee settings (settlements and host communities) in Uganda. This toolbox informs stakeholders in the humanitarian and development sphere about which tools were applied, how they were applied and what formats were used. It includes sample interviews for households, energy vendors and focal group discussions.

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IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) for Energy

This Toolkit has dedicated questionnaires for collecting data on access to basic energy namely for cooking energy, lighting, space heating/cooling and WASH. The DTM Multi-Sectoral Location Assessment (MLSA) is available for different countries such as:

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Assessment of Energy for Social Infrastructures

It is important to identify the most energy demanding social infrastructures present in the RS. Along with the assessment of energy consumption it is adequate to identify social infrastructures that can work as an anchored point to connect social facilities such as training centers with livelihood activities such as IT services or carpentry workshops among others, for example.

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Guiding Questions

  1. What are the costs of fuel for social services that can be diminished by solar or alternative sources of power?
  2. What are the most acute social service’s needs (e.g. clean water, health facilities, schools), that could be improved by sustainable sources of energy?
  3. Are the social infrastructures linked to aspects such as social interrelations, security or livelihoods opportunities?
  4. Does the social infrastructure provide services for both the displaced and host communities?
  5. Are the local authorities and/or communities capable of maintaining the social infrastructures?
  6. What are the preferences of the populations regarding career prospects that can be empowered in social infrastructures?

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Tools for Assessing Energy Provision in SI

The following guides are examples of guidelines for providing energy for social infrastructures; although these are not particularly designed for RS it can be adapted because they share similar factors such as the acute situation of peacekeeping troops and poor settings present in rural scenarios

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Powering Health: Electrification Options for Rural Health Centers (USAID)

This tool provides a revision for understanding reliable energy solutions and helps to identify the precondition to success. Presents a framework for assessing energy needs power generation options and examples for system sustainability.[7]

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Greening the Blue Helmets (UNEP 2012)

UNEP has produced a guide on energy efficiency and renewable energy options for peacekeeping troops which can work as a guide for energy provision for the management offices within the camps.

It provides tools for including energy management from the planning phases and illustrates it with some case studies.

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Examples of Energy Provision for Social Infrastructures

The following example also shows how energy for social infrastructure can have an impact on the perception of security in the camps while providing solar street lights, ownership and enhance social interaction among refugees and with host communities.

# Project Name/ Location/ Time





Lessons learned

Access to public lighting in refugee camps.



2012 – present

4 years

(WAME, 2015)

Zaatari camp hosts Syrians fleeing the civil war. 2012 45000 people lived in the camp (now approx. 150000).

Darkness in the night represents lack of security for women and children who needed o use cooking and toilet facilities.

Actors involved: UNHCR ESF (Electriciens Sans Frontières)

Sunna Design, a French company manufacturing. (WAME, 2015) decided install street lights above facilities and alongside the pathways.

Breakthrough technology for solar street lights that offers unequalled resistance to extreme heat. 10 years durability

Because extreme weather conditions the appropriate technology needed a heat resistant product able to guarantee lighting throughout the night and the years.

100 Sunna ISSL+ streetlights have been installed throughout the Zaatari camp, more specifically around the toilet and cooking facilities.

“Reduction of the risk of sexual and gender-based violence Reduction of the incidence of crime. Improvement of the lives of refugees, enabling more community gatherings and social activities" (Merieau & Gebre Egyziabher 2012)

Products with durable technology need less maintenance cost.

Portable devices are better at RS

Multistakeholder partnerships are important to deploy new business models and bring innovative solutions tailored to the context

Solar powered drinking water pumps Kenya.

Dadaab IFO-II Refugee Camp

2012 Installation.

Camp duration 25 years [8]

Project installed by Epicenter Trading Co. Ltd.

Located in Dadaab the “largest refugee camp in the world”

Dadaab is totally dependent on the infrastructure provided by UNHCR and other agencies.

Power is only available from several large Diesel Generators, which run 24 hours per day. The only source of water is from boreholes 130m deep[8] 

Findings on an UNHCR energy assessment to explore the use of renewable energy indicated that solar energy was a sustainable solution for pumping water.[8]

Project has replaced diesel generator powered pumps with a solar powered pump. The region has a good solar irradiation. (10 hours of sunshine daily) [8]

Maintenance experts and training courses.

Adaptation to new technologies.


Savings of operation cost, diminished risk and complexity in water supply.

System is expected to provide an annual saving of about $10,000 compared to a generator powered-system of a similar capacity.

Annual operation cost reduced 70% and by 60% including the capital cost of the system

High operational cost savings validate the higher investment in solar technologies quickly

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Assessment of Local Entrepreneurship Models (Productive Uses of Energy)

Assessing the local entrepreneurship models and innovative enterprises that require energy to function is an aspect that is not very much present in the existing guides for baseline energy assessment in refugee settings. This is important because the energy consumption from micro and small enterprises is significant in protracted crises. Furthermore, these enterprises contribute to determine existing economical activities that use energy and its impact on livelihoods and income generation. Thus it is important for possible promotion of energy market systems in the long term.

The European Union Energy Initiative Partnership Dialogue Facility –EUEI- PDFand GIZ developed a manual for electrification practitioners based on experiences from programmes around the world.

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The manual : Productive Use of Energy PRODUSE

This manual provides a systematic step-by-step approach with practical advice on how to plan, promote and implement productive use components in various electrification programmes.

Specifically the modules 1 and 2 (Pages 24-39) provide important tools for deciding whether to engage in productive use promotion and set the cornerstones of the productive use programme. Importantly, it provides a guide to convene stakeholders to discuss the rationale and need for productive use promotion, which is particularly adequate in refugee settings in order to promote stability and trust. This also implies mapping ongoing programmes of the same nature. Furthermore, it outlines the general economic considerations when reflecting on objectives relating the productive activity and uptake of electricity use with its economic benefits and welfare gains.

Module 3 and 4 (Page 42 -51) provide a series of task to analyze the local economic structures and potentials for productive uses, as well as a plan for productive uses promotion activities. Those take into account making a stock of economic activities found in the targeted area and identify those who can be upgraded by having access to electricity. Later on, to generate new business ideas that requires electricity. It also provides tools to identify bottlenecks and to coordinate with ongoing programmes.

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Assessing Energy Market Systems Development

In order to achieve sustainable solutions it is important to collect information to understand what kind of models could be developed to provide energy.

It is important to understand the nature of local service management, local supply chain development for equipment and maintenance, and ideally local income-generation activities relating to energy equipment. The particular situation in refugee settings implies different approaches to those used by market development in just a poor setting. The nature of generating protection environments in acute crises makes important to balance the interest between private sector competition and humanitarian principles.[2]

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Tools for Energy Market Assessment

Market Development Scorecard

This tool helps to investigate, measure, and subsequently be able to effectively stimulate the market development for modern energy products and services.

The tool is described in 6 sections:

This tool has already been tested in different countries such as Kenya, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Uganda etc. To know more and how to use this tool, please contact energypedia at

The Emergency Market Mapping and Analysis - EMMA (Toolkit)

This toolkit is a tailored methodology of market assessment in emergency settings. It provides a set of steps to understand how the existing markets were affected and affirms how markets are necessary to provide essential goods. The main components are:

1. Selecting critical market systems

2. Baseline and emergency mapping:

-Market environment

-Market chain

-Key infrastructure, services and inputs

-One map per market system.

3. Gap analysis

The key questions presented in EMMA are:

1. What impacts on market systems have been observed in the emergency situation?

2. How do current levels of trade and availability compare with the baseline?

3. Is the market system’s performance limited by supply or demand constraints, or both?

4. How has market integration been affected?

5. How have competition and market power been affected?

6. Can markets respond to gaps?

An example of market assessment for household solar products can be found here: Mercy Corps, ‘Mercy Corps Market Analysis for Household Solar Products in the Acholi Sub-Region’, Uganda, 2015.

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Private-Sector Engagement: The Key to Efficient, Effective Energy Access for Refugees

This toolkit, made by the Moving Energy Inititaive, offers guidance on the involvement of private-sector actors in providing energy access in forced displacement settings. The document outlines that private-sector actors have accumulated a significant amount of experience in developing energy solutions for low-income communities. It is argued that through using innovative technologies and services, the role of the private sector can be enhanced for the benefit of all concerned although significant challenges nonetheless remain which impede their involvement in refugee settings.

It reviews the main challenges for the involvement of the private sector in energy access solutions for displaced populations along with possible approaches for managing the challenges. In page 21 it is presented some proposals for energy delivery models differentiating between large scale projects, community based solutions and household solutions.

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Innovation Enterprises in Nakivale Camp Uganda.

Oxford's Refugee Studies Centre with the Humanitarian Innovation project, show interesting cases to understand the type of connections that can be made among entrepreneurial innovations made by refugees and the access to electricity. Page 13 shows the energy infrastructure map and how different sources of power have connections with entrepreneurial and economic activities. This is also useful to have a systematic view of energy interaction with different products in a refugee camp and to investigate the possible connections with livelihood activities.[9]

Download the publication

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Examples of Energy Enterprises

In the following table to examples are presented to identify lessons learned from social enterprises that to illustrate possible encounters between entrepreneurial initiatives of the refugees to provide energy; one was a pilot coming from the private sector.

Project Name/ Location/ Time





Lessons learned

Electrical power provision refugee enterprise.

Uganda – Nakivale camp

1960 - present

60,992 (as of March 31st 2014)

National population surrounding settlement 35,000 benefit from water, education, health and nutrition programmes [10]

A private refugee Congolese entrepreneur started a power provision business with a generator purchased from own savings [11]

Approach in the words of the refugee entrepreneur:

“I have a central generator which gives four major wires with each contracted house. I differentiate the price depending on the number of electronic items in their house. For heavy users, I charge 50,000 UGX [approximately 16 USD] per month but I only charge 10,000 UGX for less users.” [11]

Initial capital is a constraint to start a business in a shorter period of time.

Several different sources of energy can create a dysfunctional market

Refugee entrepreneurs and innovators are the ones that are pioneering the use of energy for productive uses. Lack the capital to escalate on their projects

The refugee entrepreneur has positioned her business as basic energy infrastructure provider in her immediate village.

Provides electricity for 77 customers, including Ugandans.

The energy provision helps to run other entrepreneurs that require energy access, such as bar (refrigeration) and internet cafés. [11]

Uganda has an approach that enables legal work for refugees, which facilitates the entrepreneurial activities and the integration with the locals

Seed capital or technology provision to entrepreneur can boost the initial market created on energy for productive uses. (View Diagram 2)

Street light mobile phone charging stations - Digicel.


Developed solar-panel-powered street light units that were equipped with sockets to charge mobile phones and car batteries

“The station would at the same time render a service to the community by lighting the street and generating income for the operator.” [12]

The equipment was provided free as long as it was taken care of. Profit for the entrepreneur was $100–150 per month

Stations installed near the kiosks selling Top Up mobile phone cards and other goods.

There was a culture of paying for the mobile chargers because they prefer that someone took a look after, rather than charging at no cost within the unsupervised station. [12]

Batteries can be stolen and this leads to underutilization of solar installations

400 stations around Haiti

Increase in the use of telephones

SIM cards were distributed to camp residents and mobiles to leaders.

This permitted that the aid agencies could communicate with them

A private actor can work with the humanitarian agencies in a good coordination scheme.

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Technology Assessment

After all the contextual, social, cultural, political and economic assessments a technological assessment responds to the particular needs and demands of the RS.

The existing tool provide by USAID´s manual identifies best options and sources for technological assessment on cook stoves giving resources about different types of stove design and production. (See page 102)

The SAFE´s toolbox presents a model to screen technologies for cooking within the household. (Page 5-7)

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Further Information

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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Lahn, G. & Grafham, O., 2015. Heat, Light and Power for Refugees. Saving Lives, Reducing Costs. , (November). Available at:
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gunning, R., 2014. The Current State of Sustainable Energy Provision for Displaced Populations : An Analysis. , (December)
  4. 4.0 4.1 GIZ, 2010. Armutsorientierte Energiegrundversorgung,
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Lahn, G., Grafham, O. & Elsayed Sparr, A., 2016. Refugees and Energy Resilience in Jordan. , (April), pp.1–7.
  6. Lahn, G. & Grafham, O., 2015. Heat, Light and Power for Refugees. Saving Lives, Reducing Costs. , (November). Available at:
  7. USAID (2009), Powering Health: Electrification Options for Rural Health Centers (Washington, DC: USAID),
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Lorentz, 2013. Solar-powered Drinking Water Pumps for Communities.
  9. Betts, A., Bloom, L. & Weaver, N., 2015. Refugee Innovation. Humanitarian Innovation Project
  10. UNHCR, 2015. UNHCR - Uganda. , 361(May). Available at:
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Betts, A., Bloom, L. & Weaver, N., 2015. Refugee Innovation. Humanitarian Innovation Project.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Bellanca, R., 2014. Sustainable Energy Provision Among Displaced Populations : Policy and Practice. , (December).
  • Brüderle, A., Attigah, B. & Bodenbender, M., 2011a. Productive Use of Energy. GIZ, EUEI PDF,, p.87. Available at:
  • Brüderle, A., Attigah, B. & Bodenbender, M., 2011b. Productive Use of Energy. GIZ, EUEI PDF,, p.87.
  • Merieau, L. & Gebre Egyziabher, A., 2012. Light Years Ahead: Innovative technologies for better refugee protection. , pp.1–12.
  • Mosel, I. & Levine, S., 2014. Linking Relief , Rehabilitation Difficult Places. , (March). Available at:
  • United Nations, 2014. A Survey of International Activities in Rural Energy Access and Electrification. [Online] Available at: Survey of International Activities in Energy Access and Electrification.pdf Survey of International Activities in Energy Access and Electrification.pdf [Accessed 01.09.2016]
  • USAID (2010), Fuel-efficient Stove Programs in Humanitarian Settings: An Implementer’s Toolkit (Washington, DC: USAID).

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