Sustainable energy provision among displaced populations: policy and practice


The number of forcibly displaced persons worldwide is expected to grow owing to the likely impact of climate change and to growing tensions among ever-larger populations competing for limited resources (IPCC, 2014). The humanitarian response should be able to expand its resources and to increase its preparedness for facing the growing challenges that will emerge. Reducing operational costs will become increasingly important. At the same time, the struggle to continuously improve the quality of life for affected people and to mitigate the harmful impact of humanitarian settings on host communities and countries remains a central aim.

Focusing on energy services has the potential to help achieve these goals, by meeting the needs of humanitarian operators in a more efficient and cost-effective way and by offering greater access to energy opportunities for beneficiaries.

Some steps are being taken – energy issues are now more often and more consistently included in projects and programmes – but there are still gaps to be addressed. The SE4All initiative and the SDG framework discussions are bringing greater focus on energy access; and in view of the 2016 Humanitarian Summit, there is potentially an opportunity to move the agenda forward.

This report attempts to examine the factors that are inhibiting system-wide changes and the diffused uptake of sustainable energy solutions. The methodology of this study is outlined in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 explores the network of actors and initiatives present on the scene, and looks at their principal motives to action and efforts to date. This exercise reveals that a comprehensive approach to cover energy needs in humanitarian response is still some distance away and indicates where more attention could be devoted. Examples of projects on the ground are then employed in Chapter 4 to expose weaknesses affecting the sector, while promising and particularly innovative models are also highlighted. Chapter 5 seeks to identify underlying mechanisms causing the challenges encountered in the case studies. Findings are then discussed in the conclusions presented in Chapter 6.


Bellanca, R. Sustainable energy provision among displaced populations: policy and practice. The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, London, UK (2014) 59 pp.

Sustainable energy provision among displaced populations: policy and practice

Published 1 January 2014