• The luminaires installed harness solar energy to light the roads of Kobe in Dollo Ado (Ethiopia). This improves security in an area without access to the electricity grid.
  • Thanks to this action, the percentage of public spaces lit in the Kobe refugee camp and its host community has increased from 5.6% of the territory to approximately 40%.
  • The project is promoted by the first multi-stakeholder alliance for humanitarian action in Spain, formed by AECID, itdUPM, acciona.org, Signify and Iberdrola, with the collaboration of UNHCR and co-financing from the European Union through AECID.


Madrid, July 11th 2024.- The 200 solar luminaires donated by the Signify Foundation and installed by the Alianza Shire on several of the roads in the Kobe refugee camp and its host community are already working. This allows the lives of approximately 38,000 people to be lit and provides safety at nightfall, especially for people in vulnerable situations such as women and minors.

The installation of the 200 luminaires is part of an energy access project that the Alianza Shire is carrying out in Dollo Ado, a remote area in southern Ethiopia without access to basic infrastructures.

Alianza Shire is Spain’s first multi-stakeholder alliance for humanitarian action. It is formed by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), the Polytechnic University of Madrid through its Centre for Innovation in Technology for Human Development (itdUPM), the acciona.org Foundation, Signify and Iberdrola, with the collaboration of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and co-funding from the European Union.



A sustainable and participatory approach to street lighting in vulnerable contexts

This public lighting project has been based on sustainability as fundamental pillar, both in the design phase as well as in its development and in order to favour its continuity. This is reflected in the use of environmentally friendly technologies and in the involvement of local communities in the different stages of the process.

Given the fact that the area has no access to basic infrastructures, the required lighting solution had to be able to be installed without the need to deploy cabling. In this regard, the Philips SunStay luminaires used have an integrated battery to store the solar energy received during the day, so that the paths can be illuminated at nightfall.

In addition, in order to identify the most suitable location for each of the light points, the local organisations RRS (Ethiopia Refugees & Returnees Services), SEE (Save the Environment Ethiopia), as well as the local population, especially women and children, have collaborated. Taking into account the pre-existing light points, in the design and development phase of the project, the optimum coordinates for installing the luminaires were defined in such a way as to maintain the correct distance between them and to reinforce safety in the most critical places. As a result, the percentage of public spaces lit in the Kobe refugee camp and its host community increased from 5.6% of the territory to approximately 40%.

The commitment to the collaborative development of the project, as well as the installation of technologies based on renewable sources, contribute to the sustainability of the project. From an environmental perspective, it favours the use of a natural resource such as sunlight. On the social side, it seeks to improve well-being and safety in the fields, as well as the necessary training for the correct autonomous maintenance of the luminaires and the involvement of the community and authorities to guarantee the care and protection of the luminaires.

Part of a wider energy access project in Dollo Ado

In Kobe, Alianza Shire is also developing a microgrid, under the coordination of Iberdrola, to serve almost 9,500 people, with an operation that resembles an energy community, to be launched in the coming months. This microgrid will supply energy to 17 community services (including schools and health centres), allowing – in addition to the lighting of rooms or the use of fans and computer equipment – to power the electric pressure cookers that will be distributed to local schools.

Besides street lighting, Alianza Shire has also developed a home electricity service solution designed by acciona.org Foundation that mainly provides electricity and mobile phone charging to improve the quality of life inside the 2,000 beneficiary households in the neighbouring town of Hileweyn, as well as the refugees’ communications with their places of origin.


  • Alianza Shire, which was selected as a good practice in the first Global Refugee Forum, will bring access to electricity to about 55,000 persons in refugee communities and host communities at Dollo Ado, in the south of Somali region in Ethiopia.
  • The project is carried out by a multi-actor partnership formed by AECID, itdUPM, acciona.org, Signify and Iberdrola with the collaboration of UNHCR and the co funding from the European Union.

Madrid (Spain), December 14th, 2023. Alianza Shire ─the first multi-actor partnership for humanitarian action in Spain─ is bringing access to electricity to the homes and the communal facilities of the refugee communities and their host communities at Dollo Ado, a remote area in the south of Ethiopia without access to basic infrastructure.

Alianza Shire is formed by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid through its Innovation and Technology for Development Centre (itdUPM), acciona.org Foundation, Signify and Iberdrola, and it has the collaboration of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The project it carries out at Dollo Ado is bringing access to the electricity basic service, through solar home systems, to the homes of about 6,500 persons at Hilaweyn, a village bordering Somalia where there is one of the refugee camps of the area. The home electricity service delivery model ─designed to last in the long term─ is planned to end its implementation in the first quarter of 2024 and it will benefit about 17,000 persons when the installation of the total of 2,000 systems planned will be ended.


The model developed is based on the experience of the acciona.org Foundation with its rural electrification initiative Light at Home, implemented in different countries where acciona.org has also had the collaboration of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and co funding from AECID.

Macarena Romero, coordinator of Alianza Shire at the AECID offices at Addis Ababa, states that this initiative “shows the feasibility of developing models to bring access to reliable, clean, lasting electricity services to meet the needs of refugee population”. “The management model set in Dollo Ado” highlights Romero “allows, from the beginning, the involvement of the beneficiaries, the local organizations and the regional government. For Alianza Shire, applying a delivery model tailored to the context is the key to ensure both the accessibility and the sustainability of what is built”.

Cristina Ruiz, manager of the area of Energy at acciona.org, explains: “We have contributed with our knowledge to develop a solution tailored to the refugee communities and the host communities at Hilaweyn, as we are specialised in bringing access to electricity to homes in complex environments through our global initiative ‘Light at Home’. Using solar home systems to provide electricity, we apply a sustainable & affordable service model that involves different actors being relevant in the area to ensure that service in the long term”.

The long-term sustainability of this model is ensured thanks to the commitment of organizations working in the area, such as the NGO Save the Environment Ethiopia (SEE), the Hilaweyn Energy Cooperative Murukmale, the Ethiopia Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS), the local authorities, and the population living in the refugee camps and the host communities.

Thanks to the co funding from the European Union, innovative models of access to the electricity basic service will be implemented up to have reached about 55,000 persons in total benefited, with also street lighting and communal systems, in refugee communities and host communities.

In the first quarter of 2024, the installation of a solar street lighting system, designed and implemented by Signify, is planned to meet the needs of about 38,000 persons in the refugee camp and the host community of Kobe. In addition, a microgrid coordinated by Iberdrola is being developed to bring service to almost 9,500 persons at Kobe. This microgrid will be started up in the first months of 2024 and it will be operated in a similar way to a PV community energy project.  



The inclusion of the communities hosting the refugee camps ─such as Hilaweyn which is one of the settlements that receive thousands of Somalis fleeing from conflicts aggravated by recurrent draughts─ is essential to ensure the integration of the refugees and alleviate the stress of resources that are usually scarce in the communities where they settle.

Ethiopia hosts generously more than 900,000 refugees in 24 camps, however the level of funding of UNHCR operations in these refugee camps is about 34% of needed.

Despite the transitory nature of the refugee camps, on many occasions they become permanent solutions that present several shortages of coverage and services due to the insufficient funding.

According to the last UNHCR’s ‘Forced Displacement in 2022 Global Trends’ report, more than 110 million people around the world flee from their homes due to conflict, persecution and violation of human rights. More than 60% of that fled population live in countries that are especially vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change effects.



Alianza Shire was selected by UNHCR as a good practice in the first Global Refugee Forum that took place at Geneva in December 2019. It is the most important international meeting, where, every four years, governments, private sector, academia, civil society and other many actors bring together to share positive experiences and search for both solutions and specific commitments to favour refugee population and their host communities. Four years later, when the second forum is taking place, this multi-actor partnership is still contributing to improve the lives of refugee population and local population in Ethiopia, through their access to energy.

Following the interruption of the project in the Tigray region, due to the outbreak of armed conflict, Alianza Shire is beginning a new project in the refugee camps and host communities of Dollo Ado, on the border with Somalia.

The main goal is to improve living conditions in refugee camps and in their host communities, strengthening local capacities, creating income-generating opportunities and improving access to basic services through the cross-cutting impacts of energy.

The decision to transfer the project to these camps was made in consultation with other actors involved in the project, such as the European Union and UNHCR.

The selection criteria for the refugee camps involved finding a stable zone in terms of security, where our local partner ZOA could easily export the expertise already acquired in the Shire refugee camps.

The Dollo Ado refugee camps and their host communities met the requirements, where there have been no significant conflicts in recent years and where ZOA has experience with other projects in the area.

Furthermore, the Dollo Ado area is ideal for implementing electricity access initiatives since, on the one hand, energy projects have previously been carried out there, and on the other hand, it is an area where electricity service is not yet connected to the national grid, nor will it be in the short or medium term. The closest grid connection point is 200 km away, and does not fit into the existing conventional electrification plans.

Objectives of the new project

The two main objectives of Alianza Shire in this new project are as follows:

  1. Improve access to basic services in refugee camps through the supply of sustainable energy in community services, as well as the installation of public lighting. To do this, we will collaborate with local entities to assess energy needs and thus be able to design a solution that is both technologically and organisationally appropriate.
  2. Create income-generating opportunities and improve living conditions for the refugee population and host communities through training, creating businesses based on solar power technology and the distribution of Solar Home Systems (SHS), and promoting employment and economic development.

Within this second objective, we aim to promote the creation of companies among the refugee population and host communities, based on photovoltaic technology and the distribution of solar home systems, which will create opportunities for income generation and livelihoods.

In this project, we will also include a line of work based on the systematisation and dissemination of the main experiences and lessons learned during the project, to make them available to the international humanitarian community.

Consequences of the conflict in Tigray

At the beginning of November 2020, political tensions between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Regional Government of Tigray led to an armed conflict that has affected access to basic services, such as electricity, fuel, communications and transportation, in addition to loss of life.

After continuously monitoring the situation in Tigray together with ZOA, a partner organisation in the implementation of the project with a stable presence in the Shire region, and the United Nations Agency for Refugees (UNHCR), Alianza Shire has decided to halt operations in the area. At present, our partner UNHCR, together with other international agencies and international and local organisations, have developed an emergency response throughout the Tigray region, which includes the Shire camps.

  • The members of the Shire Alliance have taken this decision after the armed conflict that has erupted in the Ethiopian region of Tigray since the beginning of November
  • As soon as the situation allows the activity to restart, the European Union will be requested to immediately resume the project

Madrid, 9 December 2020.- The armed conflict that has broken out in the Ethiopian region of Tigray has led the members of the Shire Alliance to request the European Union to partially suspend –until 30 April 2021– the project that is being undertaken in three refugee camps.

Since the beginning of November, political tensions between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Regional Government of Tigray have led to an armed conflict that is affecting access to basic services such as electricity and fuel, communications and transport, in addition to losses of lives. The staff of the organisations with which the Alliance works have taken the necessary security measures.

During the course of these months, the Shire Alliance team will continuously monitor the situation in Tigray together with ZOA, a partner organisation for the project with a stable presence in the refugee camps, and UNHCR, a collaborating entity of the Shire Alliance.

When the situation makes it possible to restart activity in the fields before April next year, the Shire Alliance will immediately request that the European Union resume the project.

The Shire Alliance has recently finalised the technical design for extending the electricity distribution and street lighting networks in Mai-Aini, Shimelba and Adi-Harush. Also, in the home solar electricity supply area, it has carried out awareness workshops with the local people about the benefits of these systems and their operating requirements.

The Shire Alliance teams will make the necessary preparations so that, when it is possible to resume activities in the fields, they are ready to continue with the technical implementation.

UNHCR provides regular information on the refugee population situation in Ethiopia on its Operational Data Portal

At the beginning of September, the nation-wide state of emergency declared by the Ethiopian government came to an end. However, the Government of the Tigray region, home to the refugee camps in which Alianza Shire operates, has decided to extend the state of emergency until the end of the year.


Still, the limitations hardly affect the implementation of the Alianza Shire project, which is why all activities in the camps had resumed as of mid-September.

In the upcoming weeks, the technical design for the extension of the electric distribution grid and street lighting in the camps will be finalized, and a tender for the purchase of electric equipment will be announced shortly.

Furthermore, given the limitations on international travel due to COVID-19, training processes are being reassessed, for capacity building together with various local organizations.

In addition, the provision of electricity for households through solar home systems has continued, leading to the development of the Luz en Casa (Home Lighting) program in the refugee camps and their host communities.

Specifically, in order to create micro-enterprises that support solar home systems, the pre-selection of entrepreneurs among the refugees and host communities is being carried out so they can receive the necessary training.

In addition, awareness-raising workshops have begun with future users of the project.

  • The declaration of a state of emergency in Ethiopia, due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19 worldwide, has driven the partnership to focus on activities that do not interfere with the protection of the refugee population’s health. 
  • Alianza Shire is progressing in the finalization of the technical design and training, as well as in the management of equipment and material purchases for on-grid and off-grid components.

After analysing various scenarios, alternatives and implications for the project, Alianza Shire members, together with their partners in the field ZOA and UNHCR, have decided to partially and temporarily suspend their activities in the Tigray refugee camps.


This decision was taken upon the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases during the last weeks in Ethiopia and, consequently, the declaration of the state of emergency, first in the region of Tigray and, since April 8th, in the whole country.

Alianza Shire continues to make progress along all lines that do not interfere with the measures taken by the Ethiopian Government and, above all, to protect the health of the refugee population.

In this way, the partnership will continue to move forward so that, by the time the restrictions are lifted, implementation and technical development will be ready. In addition, the acquisition of poles for the extension of the electricity network in the fields and the launch of the tender for off-grid photovoltaic equipment will begin shortly.

Closure of the Hitsats refugee camp

In addition, Alianza Shire is adapting to the Ethiopian Government’s decision to proceed with the gradual closure of the Hitsats refugee camp in Tigray, one of the four camps where the partnership has been working to provide access to energy and lighting.

The Ethiopian Government’s decision is part of its national policy to insert the refugee population into the civilian life of the country, as reflected in the refugee law passed by the country in January 2019.

Aligned with this decision, Alianza Shire will direct the scope of the project towards the other areas in which work can continue to be done.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 28 November 2017: The Government of Ethiopia today formally launched the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), effectively paving the way for the implementation of the nine pledges it made at the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in September 2016 in New York.

Through the pledges, which serve as a vehicle for implementing the CRRF in the country, Ethiopia seeks to promote refugees’ self-reliance through an improved and sustainable response that combines wider support to host communities, furthering peaceful coexistence and inclusion of refugees into national development plans. In other words, it aims to promote the protection of refugees.


Ato Solomon Tesfaye, State Minister at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) reconfirmed the government’s commitment to a significant shift in the way it responds to the needs of protection of refugees, including a gradual transition from a camp-based protection model to supporting refugee directly within host-communities.

“The Government of Ethiopia, while maintaining its doors open to refugees, envisages to gradually put an end to the encampment policy in the next ten years and progressively advance the out of camp and local integration options”, he said, calling up on the international community “for its renewed firm commitment to maximize its support for the realization of the nine Pledges”.

Transforming Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the 193 UN Member States that adopted the New York Declaration in September 2016 and pledged to undertake a number of policy measures to transform the lives of refugees including though the expansion of its Out of Camp Policy, issuing work permits and other vital documents to refugees and allowing them to engage in gainful employment, including through job creation in its industrial parks.

protection of refugees

Mr. Daniel Endres, UNHCR’s Director of the CRRF Task Team, said CRRF has already started transforming the lives of refugees in Ethiopia as witnessed by the increase in the overall school enrolment rate of refugees and the issuance of vital documents, including birth certificates to refugee children. “The pledges Ethiopia made and the actions it’s taking today are exemplary and inspire many African States,” he said and added that the country needs to be supported to realize its ambitious

Representing the donor community, H.E. Mr. Michael Rayon, the US Ambassador to Ethiopia, described the launch of the CRRF as a significant milestone and pledged on behalf of the US government and the donor community to support the government and UNHCR in their effort to implement the pledges.

The launch event at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa was attended by representatives of a wide range of stakeholders, including refugees, government line ministries, diplomatic missions, humanitarian and development organizations as well as UN agencies who all voiced support to the initiative and expressed readiness to help Ethiopia and UNHCR and its partners successfully implement the nine pledges.

Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa-Onochie, the UN Resident Coordinator in Ethiopia, congratulated the Government and UNHCR for successfully launching the CRRF which serves as a vehicle for implementing the government’s pledges.

“Ethiopia’s practical pledges are proof of the fact that generosity has little to do with wealth but it only needs a big heart.” She also pledged support and commitment on behalf of the UN in Ethiopia. Working under the overall supervision of the Office of the Prime Minister, the government has developed a road map to guide the implementation of the pledges and a Steering Committee set up to oversee the process.

The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs co-chair the Steering Committee together with UNHCR. The Pledges are in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Ethiopia’s second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTPII).

CRRF was adopted within the framework of the New York Declaration, where endorsing States reaffirm their commitment to the rights and obligations of refugees under international law.

Currently, Ethiopia hosts some 890,000 refugees, mainly from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan.

More about Alianza Shire here.

Dear friends,

Here you can find some information about the project to extend access to energy in the four Shire refugee camps (Ethiopia) and their host communities, involving around 42.000 people until 2021.

Last year on behalf of Alianza Shire the Spanish Official Cooperation (AECID) signed a Delegation Agreement with the Delegation of the European Unionin Addis Ababa.

The new intervention is focusing on three components: grid extension to services and businesses, street lighting, distribution of Solar Home Systemsand creation of related-service businesses.

A local team set up in Shire and Addis Ababa is leading the energy coordination meetings with UNHCR, the Ethiopian Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), the Ethiopian local districts called woredas, and other implementing partners and refugee representatives.

In July, Acciona.org and itdUPM participated in a mission focused on the official launching of the project in Shire and the collection of data for the solar component.

And in October, a group of researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, supported by the Hawassa University, were in Shire for theimplementation of a multisectoral methodology for needs assessment.

Field situation update

The reopening of the border crossing points between Eritrea and Ethiopia has resulted in a significant increase in the number of new arrivals from Eritrea, reaching over 60.000 refugees in the four Shire refugee camps by the end of October.

During the last field mission in October we could notice the current emergency situation in the camps. In Adi-Harush, where the pilot project was implemented, the population duplicated in less than one year.

Also in October an audit conducted by IRC’s Community Wellbeing Initiative (CWI) in coordination with ARRA, UNHCR and other partners, showed therelevance of energy (specially lighting) in order to avoid some risksrelated to the high influx of refugees.

But last week we have received very good news. Ethiopia’s historic new refugee law will now allow refugees to obtain work permits, access primary education, open up access to national financial services, etc.

All these updates on the context have been taken into account for theInception Report that has been presented to the EU, reviewing and adapting the activities and targets of the intervention.

At the beginning of 2019 the mission with the experts from Iberdrola and Signify is expected to take place. At the same time, it is planned that the users’  identification for the Solar Home Systems starts soon.

  • Last year, the first phase of the project, implemented in the Adi-Harush camp, involved the improvement and extension of the electricity grid and connection of community services – including markets, school, communal kitchens, and a wellness centre for women and girls. In addition, 4 km of public lighting with LED technology luminaires were installed.
  • Over the next three years, the five partners of Alianza Shire will work together with the refugee population and host communities in Northern Ethiopia to further improve their access to electricity.

energy access

19th July:

Last 19th July in the city of Shire, Tigray, Alianza Shire members and ZOA presented the project that will be developed over the next three years to improve access to electricity in four refugee camps in this region, as well as for their host populations.

The Spanish Ambassador to Ethiopia, Borja Montesino Martínez del Cerro, and Johan Borgstam, the European Union Ambassador in Ethiopia – co-funder of this new project through the Trust Fund for the Horn of Africa – also attended the presentation.

Alianza Shire, a Public Private Partnership, was formed in 2014 by three leading Spanish companies in the energy and lighting sectors Iberdrola, Signify, Fundación ACCIONA Microenergía, la Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AECID) and Centro de Innovación en Tecnología para el Desarrollo de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (itdUPM) from the main technical university in Spain -Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.

Aim of the project

The aim of the project will be to improve the living conditions and create livelihood opportunities of the refugee population living in the Shimelba, Hitsats, Mai-Aini and Adi-Harush camps, as well as their surrounding communities, by extending access to the electricity grid, installing solar home systems (SHS) and street lighting, reaching around 40,000 people.

All this will be achieved by focusing on two aspects: the capacity building and the design of joint businesses, both geared towards the refugees and the host communities.

In 2017, Alianza Shire completed its first project in Adi-Harush camp, where more than 8,000 Eritreans live, providing electricity to a school, community kitchens, and small businesses , as well as the installation of four kilometres of public street lighting.

The impact of Alianza Shire

The impacts of this project have been numerous, including the reduction of deforestation in the area – mainly firewood collection -, reduction of greenhouse gases emissions from firewood and diesel combustion (as well as economic savings) and greater security for girls and women, especially in the night.

Representatives of entities that will collaborate on the project, such as the Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), were also present at this morning’s presentation in the city of Shire.

Presentation of Alianza Shire: Next May 29 we will be presenting the first public-private partnership in Humanitarian Action in Spain. Alianza Shire aims to provide enery access to refugee population.

During the morning, representatives of the organizations members of the partnership will explain their role in this innovative iniciative and the results of the pilot project developed in several refugee camps in the North of Ethiopia. In addition, we will have the participation of international experts in partnerships and humanitarian action.

Register now for the presentation of Alianza Shire

29th May, 2017

Venue: Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation. Av. de los Reyes Católicos, 4, Madrid

alianza shire