Last April, Alianza Shire contributed to the 4th International Conference on Solar Technologies and Hybrid Mini-grids to Improve Energy Access with two interventions, organised by the University of the Balearic Islands from 26 to 28 April in Palma de Mallorca.
Sonia Ramos, a member of the itdUPM team, was in charge of presenting the two abstracts, which analyse the evidence and data collected in the refugee camps of both Shire and Dollo Ado, and delve into the feasibility of solutions in two areas: e-Cooking (solar cooking) through a solar mini-grid in public institutions in refugee camps, and the gender gap in energy use for small businesses in displacement settings.
Access to Energy for e-Cooking in Public Institutions of Displacement Settings through a Solar Mini-Grid
The work is based on the realisation that while the vast majority of the more than 102 million people forcibly displaced from their homes tend to cook with solid biomass, and that this has devastating consequences for their health and the environment, clean cooking and electrification tend to be treated as separate issues and receive disparate levels of investment.
The Alianza Shire’s project in the Kobe IDP settlement in the Somali region of Ethiopia has therefore assessed the feasibility of providing access to Electric Pressure Cookers (EPCs) in public educational institutions through a solar mini-grid.
The innovative approach proposed by the Alianza Shire is to replace traditional 25-litre cooking pots in 6 schools in the Kobe refugee camp with 40-litre electric pressure cookers, powered by a solar mini-grid.
By assessing the feasibility of implementing a mini-grid to supply energy to a set of 16 community services, including the 6 schools, through the use of an optimisation tool, the solution has been found to be technically feasible. The investment cost will be co-financed by the European Union through the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), so that the direct beneficiaries will only have to cover the operation and maintenance costs.
The gender gap in productive energy use in refugee camps and its impact on livelihood opportunities
In displacement settings, there are local markets and economic structures in refugee camps that provide livelihood opportunities, but these businesses often do not have sufficient energy to operate or improve their services. Promoting the development of local businesses in refugee camps is critical to building self-reliance among refugees, which is one of the pillars of UNHCR’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework.
However, there is a clear gender gap in (poor) energy access among businesses in displacement settings.
From a study conducted in refugee camps in Shire, Ethiopia, where 639 businesses were surveyed on business energy consumption and use, it can be seen that the majority of businesses were run by young men and only around 15% by women. In addition, the price paid for energy supply through private diesel generators is between 3% and 18% higher for women. It was also found that businesses with an energy supply had higher profits compared to those without energy services.
In conclusion, in the solutions proposed by Alianza Shire and other projects, it is not only suggested to focus on access to energy as a fundamental key to creating development opportunities, but also to include a gender perspective in providing this access.