In eastern Sudan, renewable energy is being trialled as a power source in UN-run refugee camps, where an influx of thousands of people fleeing conflict in Ethiopia is putting a strain on local resources, and host communities.
“Cutting trees is the only option, since we don’t have the money to buy charcoal,” says mother of three Kibrat Rizgay, one of the tens of thousands of Ethiopian refugees seeking shelter in Sudan, and struggling to find ways to find fuel, and a source of income. The sudden demand for firewood, which is seeing many trees cut down, is causing friction with local communities, and creating environmental damage.
In response, the UN Development Programme has looked to renewable energy for a solution, providing hundreds of solar box cookers, which can feed five people per day, and installing dozens of solar-powered streetlights in refugee camps and nearby communities.
Thanks to the improved lighting, humanitarian operations can continue at night, security is improved, and health centres and other community facilities benefit.