Scaling sustainable energy services for displaced people and their hosts

Think tank: Chatham House

Author(s): Owen Grafham; Glada Lahn; James Haselip

October 4, 2022

This report from UK think tank Chatham House looks at how refugees and displaced persons nearly always remain outside national energy policy.

Access to clean, safe and sustainable energy – the focus of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 – is one of the principal needs of developing-country populations, for cooking, heating, light, communication, study, livelihoods and security. But people who have been forced to flee their homes, some 80 per cent of whom find refuge in low- and middle-income countries, nearly always remain outside national energy policy and planning mechanisms, even though most live and work within a local economy. This research paper draws on five case studies – focusing on Ethiopia, Jordan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – to explore how humanitarian efforts to scale up access to sustainable energy for refugees and other displaced communities are affected by policy and governance structures in host countries. The authors underscore that national energy polices and ambitions for low-carbon development pathways need to be accompanied by frameworks that support integration and self-reliance for displaced people, including through rights to work, move and participate freely in host economies. Equally, humanitarian organizations need to prioritize structures, processes and fundraising mechanisms that enable them to attract investment for sustainable energy initiatives and deploy resources carefully and meaningfully.