Ethiopia is the third African country with the largest refugee population, hosting more than 210,000 Somali refugees (according to UNHCR data in May 2021), a situation that has occurred for more than 30 years.
Dollo Ado, located in southeastern Ethiopia and close to the border with Somalia and Kenya, has the second highest concentration of refugees in Africa. Around 170,000 people are registered in the Dollo Ado refugee camps (according to UNHCR data in May 2021).
The Ethiopian government and UNHCR opened the Bokolmanyo and Melkadida refugee camps in 2009 in response to the displacement of thousands of Somalis caused by the escalation of violence by Al Shabab. In 2011, an intense drought generated a new migratory flow fleeing famine and the need to open three more camps: Kobe, Hilaweyn and Buramino. In 2017 a new escalation of violence and a historic drought caused a new flow.
The refugee population has great relevance in economic dynamics, and great potential to make a significant socio-economic contribution to host communities. Above all, considering that most host communities are smaller in size than refugee camps and that the largest ethnic group in host communities is Somali. This area thus becomes a hub for both refugees and host communities, which often have relatives across borders.
Therefore, we are working with both populations to take advantage of the resources of each one of them and improve their basic services and their quality of life.
According to UNHCR data in May 2021, a total of 27,439 refugees reside in Bokolmanyo, 35,916 in Melkadida, 31,999 in Kobe, 38,097 in Hilaweyn and 35,228 in Buramino. In the five fields mentioned, the distribution of the population by gender is similar, the female presence being slightly higher (52%) and in all of them there are around 65% of children and young people. The family units that inhabit each camp range from 4,000 to 7,000 and in the host communities they range from 1,500 to 10,000.
21% of the refugees who live in the camps generate income from their economic activity, while in the host communities this percentage is 29% and the average income of the refugee population in the camps is 28 dollars per month while that in host communities is $ 105 per month.
Many of the refugees have been living in these camps for a decade, therefore, it is necessary to address urgent needs, but also encourage the development of opportunities.
On the other hand, Ethiopia is continually exposed to severe droughts that affect the Horn of Africa as a whole, and can significantly affect the fields.
Access to energy
According to UNHCR estimates, the proportion of access to energy is very similar in the five camps and is around 3% of the total population.
The refugee camps in Dollo Ado are far removed from the national electricity grid and connecting to it is a very complex option. Therefore, the energy sources available in refugee camps and host communities are generators and photovoltaic systems, as well as stand-alone solar kits and solar lanterns. There is also a mini network managed by cooperatives.
70% of people in host communities use battery-powered flashlights to illuminate themselves, this percentage drops to 40% in refugee camps. All fields have a public lighting system installed.
On the other hand, the use of firewood for cooking is progressively causing deforestation in the peripheral areas of the fields. Women and girls, in charge of collecting firewood, must walk longer distances each time, exposed to security risks.
In addition to the installation of a sustainable energy supply in common services, we incorporate home photovoltaic systems, both in these refugee camps and in host communities, generating local capacities in the form of micro-enterprises for their use and maintenance.