Project description / objective
The Renewable Energy for Refugees (RE4R) project is helping refugees and their host communities in Rwanda and Jordan to access affordable sources of renewable energy by engaging private sector actors in displacement contexts and by strengthening local markets. RE4R ensures that households, businesses, and community service providers have the energy they need to support human, social, and economic development. By powering lighting, cooking, radios, mobile phones, tools, and appliances, RE4R enables refugees to generate income and move from reliance on aid to economic independence.
In Rwanda RE4R worked in Nyabiheke, Kigeme and Gihembe refugee camps (Gihembe camp was closed in September 2021).
In Jordan RE4R worked in Irbid with out-of-camp refugees who were living in the city.
Market systems focus
Refugee communities need energy to power their homes, schools and health clinics. Families need it for earning an income, for cooking and studying. Without a reliable energy source, it’s difficult to meet basic human needs. Yet, in most refugee camps, electricity is scarce and expensive. As a result, the average displaced household will spend at least $200 per year on fuel, which amounts to a staggering $2.1 billion each year worldwide.
Lack of access to energy stops refugees from rebuilding their lives and keeps them reliant on aid.
Working directly with refugees, local governments, the private sector, humanitarian agencies and other stakeholders, RE4R aims to strengthen energy markets in refugee camps in Rwanda and urban settings in Jordan.
- Electricity services for households and small enterprises
RE4R provides technical, financial and facilitation support to suppliers to expand their businesses into humanitarian settings to increase the number of customers able to purchase solar home systems. This includes addressing affordability issues such as providing access to finance and supporting income generating activities.
- Productive uses of energy for livelihoods
RE4R provides tailored support for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and improve livelihood opportunities. The support includes business mentoring, access to electricity and appliances, technical training and access to finance (in the form of grants and loans).
- Clean cooking
RE4R provides technical, financial and facilitation support to suppliers to address barriers and strengthen the market for clean cooking solutions in humanitarian settings. This reduces reliance and expenditure on traditional fuels and stoves and encourages use of clean cooking practices.
- Solar street lighting
Community groups decided priority locations. To ensure sustainability, the lights are owned by local government in consultation with a refugee committee responsible for day-to-day management. Camp-wide lighting has improved feelings of safety, enhanced quality of life and increased economic activity after dark.
- Provision of solar water heating systems (SWH) and energy efficiency upgrades to households
RE4R formed agreements with Jordanian landlords hosting Syrian refugees to provide a SWH in exchange for reduced rent for the refugee tenants. This increased the standard of living and reduced utility bills for refugee families.
- Onsite solar PV and energy efficiency upgrades for public schools
RE4R provided on-site renewable energy systems with energy efficiency upgrades to achieve a reduction in electricity bills and improved learning environment. Students, teachers and government staff were trained in renewable energy and energy efficiency principles and maintenance.
- Skills training and capacity building
RE4R provided employment and livelihoods opportunities for Syrian refugee youth by providing enhanced vocational skills in solar technology, installation and maintenance.
Notable results (systemic change, poverty impact)
- 3855 solar home systems sold in Rwanda
- 183 streetlights installed in Rwanda
- 862 people received training on productive uses of energy
- 150 businesses received mentorship
- 572 shelters installed with solar water heaters
- 123 shelters with energy efficiency upgrades
- 3,421 beneficiaries received renewable energy/energy efficiency upgrades
- 107 youth completed training
- 12,402 students enrolled in schools benefitted from renewable energy systems and energy efficiency upgrades
Systems changes at the local level
- To measure increased business earnings we followed 120 entrepreneurs to see if they increased their incomes to by the end of the project. Target: 50 per cent. Achievement: 70 per cent increase (84 entrepreneurs reported an increase in income).
- To measure new linkages created between suppliers and off-takers we look at how many collaborations between markets and producers were established (target: 5, progress: 23); and how many suppliers of appliances had been linked to entrepreneurs (target: 6, progress: 6). The means of verification were agreements between the parties.
Systems change at the global level:
To achieve systems change we measure attitudinal, practice and policy change. We have participated in 65 policy forums and external engagements with humanitarian energy professionals and humanitarian sector actors. As a result we have seen attitudes change through positive recognition of renewable energy services for refugees and market based approaches for renewable energy services for refugees. Notable examples include:
- RE4R contributed to the EnDev Learning & Innovation Agenda (2020-2021 and beyond) which has informed their programming and development of proposals and facilitated international discussions and knowledge transfer on crucial aspects of sustainable energy access.
- The Compendium of Good Practices for a Greener Humanitarian Response report published in June 2021 used RE4R and NRC’s work in Jordan as a case study. The report concluded that a gradual shift towards the inclusion of sustainable, clean energy in humanitarian projects is underway.
37 knowledge products have been produced by the RE4R team aimed at reaching professional audiences with an interest in humanitarian energy to share the experiences, tools and data and to inspire uptake of RE4R’s models across the humanitarian sector. From these products we have seen engagement towards practice change and policy change through interest in replication. Notable examples include:
- The Peoples Postcode Lottery saw our RE4R Factsheet and expressed an interest which led to funding for an energy project in Rwanda.
- RE4R private sector partners are planning to continue their services in the camps after the end of the project and are looking to expand to new camps in the country.
Impact on poverty
- 19 out of 20 businesses entrepreneurs have enhanced business performance due to asset acquisition and productive uses of energy
- 332 participants attended technical and vocational skills training
- 427 jobs were created either through contracted suppliers or gained after TVET training
- 374 businesses were created from direct use of products and services facilitated by RE4R
- 96 businesses improved as a result of direct engagement with activities and services facilitated by RE4R
- 184,636 Jordanian Dinar (approx. $260,420) were contributed by landlords in the form of rent-free tenancy
- 29 per cent reduction in spending on non-renewable energy technologies and fuels at household level
- 96 per cent of shelters are using the renewable energy technology
- 97 per cent of youth became certified technicians after passing the final skills training assessment
- 82 per cent of students and teachers report improved learning environment
[uploaded April 2022]