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for Refugees in Burkina Faso

How access to clean, affordable and reliable energy has transformed the life of over 10,000 refugees from Goudoubo camp in Burkina Faso


Completed Project

The Challenge

Goudoubo refugee camp hosts over 10,000 refugees. It grew out of political and military unrest that began in Mali in January 2012 and led to a mass exodus of civilians into neighboring Burkina Faso.

Isolated from the national grid and lacking reliable access to sustainable power, the search for alternative energy is a struggle refugees are often and constantly confronted with.

  • Displaced people are energy poor: each household in Goudoubo camp receives only 12 kilos/month from the camp administration which represents only 10% of their cooking needs.
  • The demand for energy is high: the camp offers a potential customer base of 2,000 households – worth about $270,000 per year.
  • The cost of energy is high for displaced people: firewood for cooking accounts for 65 % of all energy spending, followed by charcoal (30 %) and finally batteries for radios and lighting (4%)
  • The health and safety toll is alarmingly high: Pollution from indoor cooking fires cause health issues in particular for women and children exposed to the smoke for many hours each day. Collecting firewood exposes women to unacceptable risks of gender-based violence and adds to their already heavy domestic burden

Many refugees would like to buy low-carbon stoves and lights but poor access in camps and a lack of funding is forcing them to rely on “dirty and expensive” fuels.

The Ingenious Solution

We worked with the private sector to design and implement innovative market-based solutions by cooperating with host governments and national NGOs and improved the evidence base through original research and the demonstration of new approaches tried and tested in camps and host communities.

  • Implementing Low Carbon Energy projects for refugee camp and host communities of Goudoubo by:
  • Installed a solar-powered water pump, replacing a diesel-based generator, to provide a reliable, less costly and environment friendly water supply system for Goudoubo’s 10,000 residents
  • Installed solar-powered irrigation systems for vegetable producing areas which will provide livelihoods for 150 households
  • Built up an energy service centre that provides several businesses with fully equipped solar-powered facilities, where they can access electricity 24 hours a day, for a fee
  • Develop inclusive markets for Decentralised Energy solutions by supporting private off-grid energy solution companies to set up long-term marketing and delivery strategies that work for the Goudoubo refugee camp and the neighbouring host city Dori

Take Practical Action

This programme is just one example of how our work breaks down taboos and helps people access information that improves their lives. Your donation will help us break down more barriers for girls and women living in some of the world’s poorest areas.

Location: The Goudoubo refugee camp (Burkina Faso)

Duration: 2015-2019

Partners: Energy 4 Impact, Chatham House, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Principal funders: UK Department for International Development (DFID)

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