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Multi-million euro project helping refugees with renewable energy solutions achieves results after three years in Jordan 

By Practical Action On 17.08.2021 EnergyPress release



International development organisation, Practical Action, working in partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and supported by the IKEA Foundation, teamed up with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), to lead the Renewable Energy for Refugees (RE4R) project, which provided renewable energy solutions to refugee families, schools, and the communities hosting them in Jordan.  

After three years of innovation and partnership, the project successfully ended in March 2021.

Jordan presented an interesting challenge as the refugee population targeted were based in urban centers, living in towns and rented accommodation rather than the traditional camp setting. This inspired innovative approaches to bring solar water heating, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, energy efficiency upgrades, and training opportunities for Syrian refugees and the Jordanian communities hosting them, living in and around Irbid in the north of the country.

“It very much helped to improve quality of life. It reduced our gas expenses since I used to heat water with gas. The water is hot now.” 

Shelter respondent 

  What RE4R achieved for refugees in Jordan:

  • © UNHCR/Hannah Maule-ffinch

    Installed solar water heaters in 572 households where refugees are living as tenants and completed energy efficiency upgrades in 123 of those households, reaching more than 3,400 individuals.  

  • As a result, households spent 29% less on their utility bills and heating fuel and the landlords contributed $260,420 in the form of rent-relief in exchange for the investment in their property. 
  • Installed PV systems and energy efficiency upgrades in 14 schools where 12,400 Syrian and Jordanian children are enrolled to improve their learning environment and offset the schools’ energy costs.  
  • Conducted awareness sessions for 5,778 students and trained 50 government staff in the operation and maintenance of the PV systems
  • Enrolled 115 youth in a renewable energy vocational training course, with 107 youth successfully completing the training. 
  • Engaged 90 youth in local environmental and advocacy training to inspire environmental practices across the community.  
  • NRC shared evidence and learning from the project through 28 knowledge sharing events and established an inter-ministry decision-making forum to discuss and shape national policies to recognize the needs of refugees and the significance of renewable energy. 

 “Following the Syrian crisis most schools in Jordan needed maintenance due to the increasing pressure on schools’ infrastructure. All those infrastructure upgrades helped make classrooms more adequate to a safe and healthy learning environment for students and teachers alike…In the past public schools’ energy consumption was extremely high but this increase in energy efficiency resulted in a significant reduction in electricity costs.” 

School Principal 

RE4R’s work in Jordan offers huge potential for national scale up and wider systemic change, as it has:  

  • © UNHCR/Hannah Maule-ffinch

    Contributed to a stronger enabling environment for the adoption of renewable energy services for refugees

  • Used young champions to inspire local level behaviour change within communities
  • Catalysed wide-spread demand for similar renewable energy services in public schools
  • Informed NRC’s global urban strategy to shape future programming globally
  • Offered a methodology for greener public buildings and residential areas to contribute to a reduction in national carbon emissions
  • Leveraged NRC’s advisory role to ensure that policies and plans meet the needs of vulnerable refugees living across cities.   

Laura Clarke, RE4R Project Manager, Practical Action said “Collaboration between partners has been key to the success of this project, and the achievements have been made possible by  the organisations’ openness, appetite for learning and determination to ensure lasting improvements to the quality of life of refugees.” 

“Overall, the project offers insightful learning and evidence to shape future renewable energy programmes and ensure that sustainable energy is accessible for all, including refugees.” 

“There was a shift in behaviour and acceptance of the renewable energy concept and the government received lots of calls from different public schools requesting to install PV systems.” 

Government of Jordan representative 

Notes for Editors 

Practical Action is an international development organisation that puts ingenious ideas to work so people in poverty can change their world. 

Practical Action helps people find solutions to some of the world’s toughest problems. Challenges made worse by climate change and gender inequality. It works with communities to develop ingenious, lasting and locally owned solutions for agriculture, water and waste management, climate resilience and clean energy. And it shares what works with others, so answers that start small can grow big.  

Practical Action consists of a UK registered charity with community projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America, an independent publishing company and a technical consulting service. It combines these specialisms to multiply its impact and help shape a world that works better for everyone.