The Moving Energy Initiative

From energypedia

Without safe and reliable access to energy, it is impossible to meet the basic needs of life.

Energy is needed for cooking and lighting as well as for heating and cooling homes, communities, clinics and schools. Energy is also required for enterprise, communication and mobility. Yet for most refugees energy is expensive, dirty and dangerous.

The Moving Energy Initiative (MEI) is the first international partnership working to change this.

We do so by sharing insightful and policy-relevant research, encouraging learning from innovative on-the-ground projects and investing in partner organizations that provide sustainable solutions.

Visit the website at

Who we are 

Working with humanitarian agencies and donors to change policies and practices based on evidence from practical projects;

Working with the private sector to design and implement innovative market-based solutions;

Improving the evidence base through original research and the demonstration of new approaches tried and tested in camps and host communities;

Cooperating with host governments and national NGOs to improve energy security among both local and refugee communities.

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

The MEI is a consortium of world-class organizations. Each partner brings significant expertise, a track record of impact and influence, as well as networks from across the energy and humanitarian sectors.

Chatham House is an independent policy research institute based in the United Kingdom. Building on its history of policy expertise, Chatham House translates the country level findings into policy-relevant recommendations. It leads on research, stakeholder engagement, advocacy and communications.

Energy 4 Impact, E4I, is a not-for-profit organization working towards energy access in Africa, with offices in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Senegal and the United Kingdom. E4I leads on the implementation of the current portfolio of MEI field projects with particular focus on work in Kenya.

Practical Action is an international NGO tackling poverty in developing countries. It has offices in Bangladesh, eastern Africa, Latin America, South Asia, southern Africa, Sudan, the US and western Africa. Practical Action are the lead partner in Burkina Faso.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, the NRC, is one of the world’s largest independent humanitarian organizations and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is the UN organization dedicated to humanitarian issues. Together they provide insight from the humanitarian sector, informing the MEI’s approach and shaping the research and recommendations so they are directly relevant for adoption at a practical and systemic level.

The UK government’s UKAid is a world leader in aid delivery and policy and is the lead funder of the work of the MEI.

Our Work

Improving data and information

Standardized data for energy supply, energy use, efficiency, costs and payment mechanisms are needed for most refugee settlements around the world.

Detailed research in different contexts and clear and timely dissemination of the results is sorely needed. The MEI is working to aggregate the emerging findings and act as a knowledge hub for best practice in humanitarian energy provision.

The MEI has designed a model offering the first global estimates of the scale of energy demand, cost of energy use and CO2 emissions among populations of concern to the UNHCR.

See the Global Refugee Energy Access Visualisation at

Creating energy markets

Humanitarian organizations have relied on a procure and provide model of energy distribution that has stunted the ability of energy suppliers to sell products and offer services within refugee settings. Medium and long-term refugee populations will be better off moving from handouts and emergency relief to self-reliance as quickly as possible. The expertise to create clean and financially sustainable energy services can often be found in the private sector, so finding the right model for public–private partnerships and outsourcing services is critical.

By building on local markets and the entrepreneurship of displaced - as well as local - people, relevant solutions can often be quickly found and scaled up. A Kenyan living close to Kakuma refugee camp has established a business selling solar panels in the camp, providing a vital service for residents and an income to support him and his family.

Promoting rights
It is important that host governments consider the benefits of allowing refugees to work legally in host countries, shifting them into a more secure and formal economy, with benefits for all. The MEI is working closely with its partners to progress this agenda.

Inclusion of local and refugee populations

By including refugees in national energy access targets and plans, host nations can harness humanitarian and development funding to bolster national energy resilience. There is potential for solutions to be win-win, meeting commitments to protect refugees whilst relieving energy poverty among local populations.

Additionally it is important that donors and humanitarian organizations recognize that such schemes that also benefit local communities, or contribute to a host country's wider development goals, are more likely to be adopted by governments in national contexts.

Visit the website at

Read our latest reports

Contribute to the Energy Access for Refugees Visualisation