Published by
Practical Action

This comprehensive assessment offers solutions to improving the energy access, wellbeing, and livelihoods of displaced people.

The average lifetime of a refugee camp is 17 years and more than 70 million people around the world are forcibly displaced. The provision of energy in humanitarian settings for critical services, from cooking meals to powering health centres, is often inefficient, unsafe, or inadequate.

As part of the Renewable Energy for Refugees (RE4R) programme, Practical Action used the total energy access (TEA) approach to assess levels of energy access in three refugee camps in Rwanda that host displaced people from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

They conducted hundreds of surveys, interviews, and focus group discussions with camp residents, business owners, community leaders, and organisational staff to understand the energy issues in the camps, the technologies and fuels that are being used, the opinions and priorities of camp residents, and the challenges they face on a daily basis.

Using this information and in collaboration with government, NGO, and private sector partners, RE4R identified the most important energy issues in the camps and with these stakeholders co-designed four renewable energy interventions that each address different needs and priorities:

  • promote the delivery of solar home systems in the camps and increase their usage among households and small businesses
  • increase access to improved cooking solutions and sustainable, renewable fuels 
  • provide standalone solar streetlights for public-space lighting with the aims of improving mobility around the camps after dark
  • provide solar electricity to camp institutions and businesses to reduce the usage of diesel generators