Refugees in South Sudan. Credit: Oxfam

Four projects with the power to tackle the global refugee energy crisis have been longlisted for the new Ashden Humanitarian Energy Award. One winner will be announced in June.

The number of refugees around the world is 70 million and growing – a total accelerated by global heating. Most have to cook on dangerous open fires or stoves, relying on polluting diesel generators, or going without electricity at all. 

As well tackling these problems, clean energy solutions – such as safer cooking stoves and solar electricity for lights and mobile phones – can enable refugees to learn new skills and earn an income.

Ashden CEO Harriet Lamb welcomed the outstanding innovation in the longlist – but warned the search had also highlighted major failings in the global humanitarian system. 

She said: “What we saw confirms that the humanitarian system needs to be radically overhauled, with governments offering serious investment and long-term commitments. Clean energy innovators do amazing work but are held back by the common short-term funding models

 “Refugees deserve the same opportunities as the rest of us – including access to energy. Our treatment of refugees is a global scandal that needs addressing.”

The longlist was drawn up by a team of Ashden experts, who consulted with partners around the world in a search for innovation with the potential to create radical change. 

Harriet Lamb said: “Many organisations are not just providing clean energy to refugees but empowering them with skills and training too. The best schemes are run with significant input and guidance from refugees themselves, and many benefit local ‘host’ communities alongside refugees – addressing a major political obstacle to supporting displaced people. 

“We found organisations making it viable for energy companies to offer their services in refugee camps, a development with huge potential for giving refugees the same rights and opportunities as the rest of us. And projects that go beyond refugee camps – recognising that the refugees who live ‘hidden lives’ among host communities are often the worst off. 

“The varied benefits of clean energy were crystal clear. We found innovators developing new services in some of the most conflict-affected countries on earth, services that don’t just provide energy but also address gender inequality and build local economies.”

The longlist

United Nations Development Programme

The UNDP has empowered refugees, particularly women and young people, to sell solar products and build a micro-grid in Yemen.

Kube 

Kube’s groundbreaking financial model allows the company to supply sustainable energy to refugees in Kenya and South Sudan.

Norwegian Refugee Council and Practical Action

This package of clean energy measures supports refugees and host communities in Jordan, providing heating, solar power for overburdened schools and more.

Gaia Clean Energy

Gaia brings clean cooking and opportunities for women to refugee camps in Ethiopia.