Publication - Cooking in Displacement Settings: Engaging the Private Sector in Non-wood-based Fuel Supply

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Cooking in Displacement Settings: Engaging the Private Sector in Non-wood-based Fuel Supply
Moving Energy Initiative (MEI)
Laura Patel & Katie Gross
Published in
January 2019
Providing adequate cooking fuel and clean-burning, fuel-efficient stoves in displacement settings has long been a major challenge for local authorities, humanitarian agencies, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), local communities and refugees themselves. Refugees generally have limited access to modern cooking solutions. Most either depend on insufficient humanitarian agency handouts of ‘in-kind’ firewood or have to travel long distances to collect firewood (in the latter case, exposing themselves to the risk of attack and/or sparking conflict with host communities). In many displacement settings, such as in Tanzania and Bangladesh, a crisis point is being reached in which firewood from the local environment is no longer available and no alternatives exist.

In many cases, host governments are recognizing the environmental damage and are now pushing for change, banning in-kind firewood distribution or requesting humanitarian agency support to transition refugees to alternative fuels. All these issues are present in the Kakuma refugee camp complex in Kenya, which prompted the Moving Energy Initiative (MEI) to explore alternative solutions to meeting residents’ cooking energy needs.

This paper presents the findings from that process, as well as background information on the cooking situation in Kakuma. It examines the challenges for refugees in accessing modern cooking solutions, and for those supporting or seeking to improve cooking practices among refugee populations and host communities. The paper is accompanied by a series of case studies that highlight examples of interventions taking place in other displacement contexts, to illustrate what can be learnt from such interventions and what additional support is needed to increase the uptake of alternatives to firewood and charcoal. This paper is based on work completed by the MEI in designing the non-wood cooking concession, as well as on interviews with a range of stakeholders in the sector. It aims to inform practitioners, policymakers and private-sector companies interested in better serving this market.