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Delivering renewable energy solutions in humanitarian settings that meet the needs of refugees is highly challenging. Inclusive design — engaging refugee communities, humanitarian agencies and the private sector — is a promising approach that offers substantial improvements in delivering energy access for refugees.
Energy interventions can improve the lives of crisis-affected populations and the efficiency and performance of humanitarian operations. However, there is little existing data around humanitarian energy interventions, and little coordination around how this data can or should be collected, used and shared.
Energy is a priority for refugees yet traditional approaches for its delivery are costly and ineffective, while energy access often falls away once aid is withdrawn. By adopting a market systems approach, aid can do more to ensure access to energy in fragile places is more effective and sustainable.
Humanitarian organizations are increasingly incorporating sustainable energy practices into programming. Policies that are clear and coherent need to be put in place so that the private sector can be progressively engaged and energy services can be scaled-up.
In October 2019, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched its Global Strategy for Sustainable Energy. The strategy aims to support refugees, their host communities and other actors to meet their energy needs safely, affordably and sustainably. Nature Energy spoke to Andrew Harper, Director of Programmes at UNHCR, to find out more about how UNHCR see energy within the context of humanitarian response.