Alliance and UN Refugee Agency Host Training on Energy Access in Humanitarian Settings
More than 90 participants from 25 countries came together last month to discuss the needs and best approaches for getting reliable fuel and energy for cooking and lighting to people in crisis settings. The occasion was the second annual Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Humanitarian Training in Kampala, Uganda. Hosted by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the focus of the training was to bring together humanitarian NGO field staff, UN agencies, energy organizations, and refugee leaders for these joint discussions.
The Alliance and UNHCR were particularly honored to welcome five refugee leaders to the workshop, who served as community representatives for four camps and Kampala’s urban refugee population. During a panel on refugee leaders’ perspectives, humanitarian staff and energy representatives heard directly from these leaders about the need for energy among displaced communities, and some of the solutions that have proved most promising. Queen Candia, the chairwoman of Oliji camp, reported that her family cooks with biogas that is freely generated by the waste of their cows. She had also helped to build institutional cookstoves in schools and a health center to reduce fuel expenditures and save the community money.
According to Halima Mohammed, a youth ambassador and leader in UNHCR’s Nakivale camp, the very inclusion of refugee community leaders in the training was empowering.
“In the camps we think they don’t think we are people, but being here [at the Alliance training], I learned that you think everyone has a talent and something to contribute,” said Mohammed. “We can share our minds.”
Another highlight was the site visits to improved cookstove and fuel factories and testing laboratories. Business owners and scientists from Ugastove, Green Heat Ltd., Kingfire Energy Solutions Ltd., and the Center for Integrated Research and Community Development Uganda (CIRCODU) welcomed the SAFE workshop participants to view production and testing of energy products and to learn more about business models and effective approaches to service delivery.
[pullquote]Two days of the three-day SAFE training were classroom-based, and included more than 24 in-depth sessions and group discussions on cookstoves, lighting technology, alternative fuel options, forestry assessments, public-private energy partnerships, gender based violence, procurement logistics and distribution, and monitoring and evaluation. For those participants that were new to energy in humanitarian settings, the training also included courses on introductory concepts on energy and humanitarian response.
A key objective and outcome for participants was a collaborative effort by colleagues who work in the same countries to identify challenges for energy access in humanitarian settings and to develop strategies to improve energy access for refugees, internally displaced people, and other crisis-affected populations. Each organization pinpointed specific areas for which they could take responsibility, and participants discussed key activities that were needed.
Joan Sang of World Vision Kenya summed up her experience, “The Alliance/SAFE training was an eye opener and showed us how to get started addressing energy access in emergencies. The case studies and tools were incredibly useful, and I now feel confident that we can create an extraordinary project in Kenya.”