Refugees and locals are coming together to provide affordable, green energy to their communities in Ethiopia’s Somali region. In south-eastern Ethiopia’s arid and remote Somali region, energy is not something that can be taken for granted, either by the more than 168,000 Somali refugees staying in five camps in the Dollo Ado and Bokolmayo areas, or by the communities that surround them.
The areas are not served by the national electricity grid, firewood is scarce, and many households cannot afford the small solar phone chargers and batteries sold at local markets. Until recently, the only option for locals and refugees running small businesses and shops, were diesel-powered generators.
“Without electricity and lighting, refugees struggle to refrigerate their food, charge their phones, study or work after sunset,” says Muhammad Harfoush, a protection officer with the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, in Melkadida, where one of the camps is based.
Women and girls are also more exposed to gender-based violence.
Globally, more than 90 per cent of refugees live in rural areas like Dollo Ado that have very limited access to reliable, and clean sources of energy.