Alliance joins global partnership to increase safe and reliable access to energy for families affected by humanitarian crises
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves officially joined a global effort to better protect the health and safety of refugees and other vulnerable people at a May 13 reception held in Geneva, Switzerland, co-hosted by the Alliance, the United Nations Foundation and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The Global Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) to address the risks associated with the collection, supply and use of biomass fuel for cooking, mainly firewood and charcoal, in emergencies. Such risks include increased vulnerability to sexual and gender-based violence or assault during firewood collection, loss of livelihood and education opportunities, environmental degradation, and respiratory and other illnesses that cause premature deaths and child health problems.
Girls and women often face the most serious personal security risks because they have to leave the relative safety of the camps to collect fuel.
The Alliance will lead research, information-sharing and public-private collaboration to expand use of proven clean cooking solutions over the life of the strategy.
During her reception remarks, Alliance Executive Director Radha Muthiah said: “Today we mark the start of an innovative partnership that focuses on the pressing needs of some of the world’s most vulnerable people. These issues have gone unnoticed for too long. They are not well understood or documented – which is why this global strategy is critical to lasting progress.”
The strategy aims to enable refugees and other persons of concern to meet their energy needs in a safe and sustainable way. It provides a cross-sectoral approach to energy programming during emergencies – from lighting in camps to lessen personal security risks, to more equitable access to clean energy technologies and fuel among families, to healthier living conditions for cooking and lighting to reduce illness and injuries.
“Working with UNHCR, the Alliance is committed to ensuring that the cooking and lighting energy needs of refugees and other vulnerable populations are met, and that these families have a better chance to lead productive, healthy lives,” said Muthiah.
The Alliance will support UNHCR in the following ways:
- Increase human resource capacity – The Alliance will organize and conduct trainings for UNHCR staff and other UN and NGO staff in order to build capacity to plan and deliver recommended clean cooking interventions.
- Raise awareness and funds – The Alliance and UNHCR will spearhead efforts to raise awareness among donors, UN agencies, policymakers, and governments about the dangers from a lack of energy access for refugees.
- Conduct research to build evidence and understand the most effective approaches – The Alliance will work with UNHCR to identify evidence gaps and co-fund research examining health, livelihood, gender, and environmental impacts of UNHCR’s SAFE projects.
- Broker innovative partnerships – The Alliance will help bridge the gap between the humanitarian and commercial cooking sector so that when applicable, UNHCR has access to the most cutting-edge technologies, fuels, research, and tools that are used in the development context to implement clean cooking projects.
- Lead coordination of SAFE globally – The Alliance is committed to supporting the global coordination of the SAFE initiative, of which UNHCR is a critical and leading partner. The Alliance will launch a SAFE online hub that UNHCR staff can utilize to share best practices, highlight their work, connect with experts, and identify funding opportunities.
“We are committed to being a catalyst for energy technology innovation, public-private collaboration, and culturally-appropriate solutions for better energy access,” said Muthiah.