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Mwangaza ("Light"): Improving Clean Energy Access to refugees in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement and Ugandan Host Communities

Market-based approach to providing off-grid lighting and cooking solutions to refugees and host communities in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement.

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Mwangaza User Experience Map

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

Bidi Bidi is an ‘off-grid’ camp, meaning that there are no sources of reliable electricity and there are few options for improved cooking methods. This creates a necessity for investment by refugees to light their homes (kerosene), charge phones (paid generator) and cook (purchased or illegally cut wood). Lack of electricity and efficient cooking options also present protection risks. As refugees cut trees around the settlement for cooking fuel, this aggravates poor host community-refugee relations and increases their risk for SGBV. Lack of electricity in the home increases risks of petty crime, SGBV and presents barriers to education as at-home study is compromised by lack of affordable sources of light. Importantly, the project makes use of community assets to increase chance of success. Business acumen in the settlement and indications of adaptation of solar/improved cooking methods are high, something that was learned during beneficiary feedback that called for these inputs.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

Yumbe District, the location of Bidi Bidi, is an area of chronic underdevelopment. Of 121 districts in Uganda, Yumbe has consistently ranked among the ten poorest. This has negatively affected municipal services and investments in business according to the 2018 World Bank Uganda Poverty Assessment Report. The promotion of off-grid electricity and improved cooking methods responds to these gaps, especially when done in a way that promotes joint refugee and host community participation.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

The current norm in refugee services unfortunately results in direct negative impacts on the environment in which refugees live. This is closely linked to the need for firewood and energy. Another norm is that an emergency response often gives only passing consideration to second tier needs like electricity, long-term health and livelihoods. The project addresses these damaging norms in a novel way that promotes refugee health, safety and opportunities for education and livelihoods.

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

An immediate impact will be felt as subsidized solar equipment and improved cook stoves are made available. Targeting vulnerable households, the presence of electrified homes will be felt across Zone 5, housing roughly 80,000 refugee residents. This project would increase quality of life and provide awareness of increased availability of clean energy equipment, generating a market space that will be filled by marketers of the equipment and trained technicians to install and repair the equipment.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

During the Beneficiary Feedback Phase, ARC became aware of a number of potential user inputs that had not previously been established. First, besides mitigating SGBV risks and benefiting students and general home life, users told ARC that electricity in the home will also reduce the number of homes burning down when kerosene lamps overturn or break at night, a phenomenon that ARC was not informed occurred frequently. Second, a number of informants commented that care for newborn children is complicated/dangerous in the dark, but that home-based lighting would resolve this and permit better childcare. Finally, reduced risk of snake and scorpion bites when acquiring wood or walking in the home at night was raised as a potential advantage to improved cook stoves and solar electricity in homes. 1,287 new Bidi Bidi responses on Kuja Kuja regarding need for solar or improved cook stoves have been received since the start of the challenge, with 4,468 received in the last year.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

The first six months will be the early adaptation stage, whereby solar home equipment and cook stoves are made available to 250 households in Zone 5 of Bidi Bidi. With equipment distributed, and refugee and host community members trained on maintenance of equipment, we’ll monitor the use and adaptability of equipment distributed, verifying that it is fit to purpose and observing key criteria like peak periods of use and challenges/barriers to use of improved energy sources. From the six-month mark, scaling will start, during which solar equipment and cook stoves will be made available at subsidized costs across Zone 5 and later all of Bidi Bidi via the introduction of marketing points where the equipment can be tested and acquired. One of the features of the BioLite equipment is that repayment for the cost of equipment is possible using a variety of accessible formats in affordable increments, most done digitally. This second stage will be an important proof of concept and uptake test.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

The project will be implemented by ARC in collaboration with BioLite, the provider of the equipment involved in the intervention. ARC is responsible for day-to-day implementation, with BioLite coming in during key points of the early adaptation stage and scale-up stage to provide technical guidance on equipment use, training of technicians to maintain equipment, and provide guidance to ARC’s staff on promoting adaptation to the solar and cook stoves as well as troubleshooting any use challenges.

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

BridgeBuilder funds are sought to launch the intervention from scratch in Bidi Bidi. Priority in the first year of funding is the subsidizing of equipment purchase price and the training of marketers and technicians in Bidi Bidi. Due to ARC’s established presence in Bidi Bidi with support from other donors, contributions by BridgeBuilder to non-direct costs of implementing the project will be minimal, with 90%+ of the budget directly benefiting refugees and host communities in Bidi Bidi.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

Q1: Regarding the use of solar-powered electricity, is there a clear consensus in any available literature on whether or not use is typically disproportionately applied to commercial activities vs. education or general household activities? Understanding projected use of the technology can offer important contribution to the type of outreach that ARC provides at the household level to maximize the positive impact of electricity for all household members. Q2: It will be interesting to determine during the early adaptation stage whether or not electrifying households has a direct and measurable impact on school attendance and improvement of marks. We were unable to find any reliable studies on that topic, but we’d be interested to learn from the experts whether any direct correlation between household electricity in refugee setting and child school performance is demonstrated elsewhere. Q3: Related to use of improved cook stoves, it would be interesting to learn more on the different rates of adaptation that we can expect to see in the host community as opposed to refugee communities. One of the core reasons why we hypothesize that adaptation to improved cook stoves will be higher amongst refugees is that a lot of the risk they experience in cutting firewood is that they are often cutting on land owned by host community members. For host community members that own land, what are the techniques that ARC could apply to increase adaptation despite their current access to a sufficient supply of firewood taken with relatively low risk?

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

One consideration made during the Expert Feedback stage is that research demonstrates no direct correlation between access to lighting and children’s academic performance, something established in trials run in Zambia in 2018. Solar lighting does, however, act as one factor for educational performance when paired with interventions addressing other barriers. ARC staff implementing the project will work to address some of the gaps that exist outside of energy access that lead to improved educational performance, including working with BioLite marketers to earmark funds earned under the project for children’s education, and linking with SGBV Community Activists to address trends towards non-investment by families in girls’ education. Further, research consulted during the Expert Feedback stage emphasized the fact that equipment breakdown was an issue in other trials, thus underscoring the importance of training technicians on site to ensure that any equipment problems can be resolved.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

During the Improve Phase, FAO sent ARC the results of a comprehensive study on wood fuel use in Bidi Bidi (see: FAO, “Wood fuel supply/demand and screening of scenarios to improve energy access and reduce environmental degradation.”) Among other findings, the assessment concluded that wide use of improved cook-stoves as proposed by this project would result in a minimum of 30% reduction of fire wood use, and would also make contributions to gender equity and peaceful co-existence, objectives that this project also pursues. In terms of the additional benefits of the project, ARC and BioLite were also able to produce an estimate of the broader environmental protection impact. By project end, the following will be achieved: 2,000 tons of CO2e offset (10,000 tones CO2e offset over 5 years), 4kW of electricity capacity installed, $286,200 in fuel savings, 70 disability adjusted life years saved, and approximately 2,000 refugee provided with clean energy access. These benefits are paired with the already described impact of creating jobs for refugees, increased protection/safety of refugees, and, if approached with a mind to the many blockages to children’s education, improved academic performance and opportunities to learn for children. Furthermore, unlike many energy access interventions in refugee contexts that use low quality equipment, this project utilizes high performance products with additional co-benefits that improve quality of life for refugees. For example, the innovative cook stove technology (the BioLite HomeStove) used in the project not only reduces emissions by 90% and wood consumption by 50%, it also generates electricity from the heat of the cooking flame which can be accessed via an onboard USB. This allows users to charge mobile phones and power an LED light to make sure the cooking area is well-lit, thereby reducing risk of burns. The electricity generation of the HomeStove also brings men into the kitchen (to charge their phones) thereby increasing family interaction and reducing gender inequality in the household. Furthermore, the solar lighting technology (BioLite SolarHome 620) used in the project provides 4 bright LED lights, 2 USB ports, an built-in rechargeable radio/mp3 player, and one of the hanging lights is motion activated. If the motion-sensing light is placed on the outside of the home, it can provide enhanced security by alerting the family of any individual passing by their home. Further, since the development of the initial proposal, ARC completed a Bidi Bidi Market Assessment, which demonstrates a number of factors that show increased likely rate of adaptation to the new technology. First, over 70% of Bidi Bidi residents are already aware of and “frequent user[s]” of mobile / digital wallets, which is the main platform for solar equipment incremental repayment. Second, whereas the most common services received by refugees are food assistance and medical care, those which are most appreciated / desired by refugees in Bidi Bidi are education and training, followed by livelihoods assistance, both of which are contained in the intervention. Additionally, the study revealed that while nearly 80% of refugees in Bidi Bidi have participation in community-based financing structures (e.g. VSLAs / SACCOs), another way in which the project will finance equipment and scale the reach or the project, most respondents were aware of these services and enthusiastic about increased opportunity to access these, something that ARC and BioLite would facilitate under the project. Further, important for the peaceful coexistence element of the project, more than 70% of respondents commented that the most profitable businesses in the settlement were jointly managed by refugees and Ugandan nationals, with 72% of refugees commenting that there were no blockages to working in collaboration with host communities. Finally, underscoring the ability of the target population to manage enterprises vending solar equipment successfully, 68% of respondents affirmed that they had all the requisite skills already to carry this out (e.g. wouldn’t require training on business management), citing that building networking skills and linking refugees with Ugandan nationals were more important preconditions for their success, something the project intends to carry out.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

All proposal sections have been edited in line with comments received, incorporating received feedback where necessary. As referenced above, changes to the approach to ensuring that improved energy access leads to improved educational performance of children depends on linking the project with other services (e.g. Livelihoods, SGBV Prevention & Response) that ARC already implements in Bidi Bidi, and identifying and dismantling other barriers to education outside of inability to study at night due to lack of energy access. This was an important finding, and ARC will work with beneficiaries of the project to ensure that money earned under the Livelihoods component of the program is partially applied to removing fee payment as a blockage to education. Similarly, ARC SGBV staff in Bidi Bidi will work with all project beneficiaries to ensure that gender imbalances in the home do not spoil hopes that the project will improve education outcomes, a gradual process that ARC has experience in seeing through. Additionally, due to findings gained during the Beneficiary Feedback stage, ARC will work to subsidize not only household access to improved cook stoves and solar lighting / electricity during the scaling phase of the project, but also increase lighting of public infrastructure in the settlements, particularly bathing areas and latrines. These facilities are rarely lit, and given that they are relatively small in size, application of 1-2 solar lighting systems for these infrastructures would make them safer, reduce incidents of SGBV, and improve dangerous hygiene practices rooted in refugee non-willingness to access dark latrines at night. Also, as a follow-up to the FAO research on wood fuel needs in Bidi Bidi, ARC has worked to identify potential partners within Rotary Clubs in Uganda so that provision and marketing of improved cook stoves is done concurrently with replanting campaigns in and around Bidi Bidi, something that would improve host community / refugee relations as well as improve environmental protection in the area. The basic set-up would be looking to Rotary, under their “Mission Green” initiative in Uganda, to provide tree seedlings, which would then be planted through voluntary actions carried out by Rotary, refugees and host communities in Bidi Bidi. This slight addition to the project does not have cost implications, but does permit a more robust response to environmental degradation inherent in refugees’ continued need of firewood as a source of fuel.

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Of the 287,087 refugees residing in Uganda’s Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement, over 230,000 rely on traditional biomass fuel like firewood for cooking. Smoky, open-fire cooking and dirty, expensive kerosene used for household lighting are endemic to refugee settlements like Bidi Bidi--each year causing 20,000 premature deaths among displaced people, emitting 13 million tons of carbon dioxide, while also costing a family of five $200 a year in fuel expenditures for inefficient and unhealthy energy. Lack of sustainable lighting also has negative security and educational consequences in settlement, particularly for children. Further, refugee dependency on firewood for cooking results in the deterioration of relations between refugees and host communities, as host communities view refugees as responsible for environmental degradation due to their need to cut trees to prepare food. To address the health, environmental, economic, and intercommunal relations consequences of open-fire cooking and kerosene lighting, American Refugee Committee (ARC), in conjunction with BioLite, will establish a 12-month, market-based intervention for retailing the BioLite HomeStove and SolarHome 620 in Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement. This project will test the adoption of these products, evaluate the effectiveness of different financing methods (conventional consumer finance and Pay-As-You-Go, Savings and Loan/Credit) on product repayment. This will make important contributions to improving refugee livelihoods and refugee-host community relations, as well as offering significant benefits to refugee health and conservation of the environment. The start-up of clean cook stove and solar lighting retail businesses in Bidi Bidi, training of technicians to monitor and repair equipment, and conducting of community outreach to increase adaptation of clean energy will be done jointly by refugees and host community members and financed partially by local CBOs known as SACCOs.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

The project targeting is unique, intended to integrate and serve both host and refugee communities, providing services while also facilitating livelihoods opportunities for participants. The project beneficiaries include ~4,000 end-users of either improved cook stoves or home solar lighting equipment (2,800 South Sudanese refugees, 1,200 Ugandan host community members). Additionally, the project will create at least 24 (17 South Sudanese refugees and 7 Ugandan host community members) jobs marketing and repairing improved cook stoves and solar home equipment. The target population for this pilot consists of households that earn $2-8 per day, have no electricity, own at least one mobile phone per household, and cook daily with wood or other biomass product. 70% of direct beneficiaries of the project will be women due to the fact that Bidi Bidi women have unique challenges for accessing livelihoods, and bear majority of the burden in the home for food preparation and managing the home.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The project is unique in that, while it makes progress in responding to a long-standing humanitarian challenge—refugee and host community access to energy—it does so through a sustainable, market-based approach that both responds to an urgent gap experienced by Bidi Bidi refugees and generates employees and future employers. Additionally, given that energy options for refugees are notoriously unsafe, unhealthy, expensive, and damaging to the environment (e.g. kerosene, firewood) as well as the relations between refugees and the communities that welcome them (e.g. conflict over available energy resources), the project stands to bridge all three thematic areas of the challenge: Peace, Planet, and Prosperity. Energy access interventions in Bidi Bidi that do not result in negative consequences to the environment or relations between refugees and host communities are not available at present, much less interventions that include livelihoods promotion and increased refugee safety.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

American Refugee Committee (ARC) is an international non-profit, non-sectarian organization that provides humanitarian assistance to communities in distress in thirteen countries spread across Africa, Asia, and the Americas. In Uganda, ARC provides life-saving assistance to over 250,000 refugees - BioLite, based in New York City, develops and manufactures off-grid energy products that bring "energy everywhere," increasingly in refugee and rural communities -

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Across its global operations, ARC employs a community feedback mechanism called Kuja Kuja to capture real-time refugee opinions on the quality of services they receive in settlements where ARC works and offer ideas for improving services. Kuja Kuja was developed in collaboration with IDEO over the past few years. In Bidi Bidi, an incredible amount of ideas from refugees include requests to bring solar energy and cooking energy solutions - 3,420 responses in less than six months to be exact.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace-Bidi Bidi refugee and host community tensions have turned violent due to two factors: lack of employment opportunities for Ugandan nationals within the settlement despite severe poverty of Ugandans in the region and host community opposition to the resource demands of nearly 300,000 new arrivals, particularly firewood and water. The project directly reduces the pull on resources and increases employment opportunities and refugee-host community joint businesses. Prosperity-Both South Sudanese refugees and Ugandan nationals in the area of Bidi Bidi suffer chronic deprivation of livelihoods activities, and the project makes a meaningful impact to introduce sustainable and potentially solar vending units. Planet-347,480 tons of firewood are used for cooking in Bidi Bidi per year, cut from surrounding forests. Non-sustainable electrical options are the norm. The project begins a process of replacing unsustainable options with sustainable ones within an established market.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

As referenced above, the idea itself originated within the South Sudanese refugee community of Bidi Bidi, and was picked up by ARC's feedback mechanism, Kuja Kuja. In a short period of time, nearly 3,420 refugee ideas centered around need for off-grid/solar electricity options and improved sustainable cooking fuel access were logged by Kuja Kuja Teams in Bidi Bidi. Thus, the communities that stand to benefit from the introduction of affordable and safe energy solutions conceived of and communicated the idea to ARC directly. Also, as a means of subsidizing the start-up costs of units that will sell, install, repair, and monitor the use of solar equipment and improved cooking stoves, ARC will work with Ugandan Micro-Finance Institutions (called "SACCOs"), linking them to refugee and host community member-led start ups and setting up sustainable repayment plans for part of the start up costs for solar and cook stove vendors. Thus the idea and the response are fundamentally local.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The project will serve a community of South Sudanese refugees and Ugandan host community members that is resilient, dynamic, business-oriented, and open to new ideas. ARC conducted a full market assessment of Bidi Bidi in the run up to this proposal, establishing among other things that residents of Bidi Bidi would likely also have the necessary funds to contribute themselves to the costs of solar and improved cooking stoves, increasing the sustainability and scalability of the project.

Geographic Focus

Bidi Bidi Refugee Settlement, Yumbe District, Northern Uganda

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The pilot stage of the project will occur over 12 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)

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Attachments (4)


ARC Annual Report, 2017

Bidi Bidi Gap Analysis.pdf

2018 Bidi Bidi Gap analysis (UNHCR, Government of Uganda)


BioLite Solar Home Product Description


BioLite Home Stove Product Description


Join the conversation:

Photo of Davis Carlos

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Photo of Kathleen Rommel

What an interesting project! Congrats on making it to this Phase. I found the feedback from your beneficiaries re: lighting community spaces incredibly interesting and very thoughtful. Improving such areas can truly impact the safety of a community. Kudos for seeking out feedback!

Photo of Jody null

Congrats on developing a compelling vision and approach! Responding to one of the posed questions regarding solar lighting and educational performance, the following RCTs may be interesting to review (although the context is different): and

Photo of ARC Uganda

Thanks Jody. These were really useful. We were able to work this in during the Improve stage, particularly the element of the research related to the impact that solar has on educational outcomes, and the need to address concurrently other barriers to education not related to in-home lighting, women and girls' work load (taking time away from school), or Protection concerns. Thanks for helping make the project better during this last stage!

Photo of Anubha Sharma

wonderful work!

Photo of Marnie Glazier

Great idea and excellent visuals on your user experience map!

Photo of ARC Uganda

Hi Marnie. Thanks a lot. The painting on the cover was actually done by an artist ARC works with from Nakivale Refugee Settlement named Ben Terarc, and the photography is from ARC and Biolite staff.

Photo of Marnie Glazier

Wow! Wonderful work and congratulations to you for supporting these artists.

Photo of patrck kyokolera

This is a great piece of work. From a human centered design perspective (community based ownership), this is sustainable and will help create better relations between refugee and host communities.

My prayer is that this idea spreads down to the south western (Nakivale) refugee settlements where (through the Kuja Kuja feedback) communities are longing for a sustainable solution to address fuel (charcoal & briquette) challenges that not only disintegrate peace between communities but make women and girls vulnerable or at risk of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Photo of ARC Uganda

Good morning Patrick. Thanks a lot for the comment. I agree on the need in Nakivale. I'm not sure if you've ever seen the satellite imagery on the following report or not, but you should check it out:

Basically, in protracted settlements like Nakivale, year to year the reduction of tree cover is and around settlements is very clear from satellite imagery.

Photo of Etienne Ssuubi

Dear ARC;

there is much need for efficient cooking and overall lighting in Bidi Bidi. Our refugee scholars from Bidi Bidi are creating a self-organized social entrepreneurship space in the camp: and it could be wonderful to have a training together and the space potentially even becoming even an outlet.

We look forward hearing your thoughts!

Photo of ARC Uganda

Hi Etienne. Thanks for getting in touch. We'd be interested in linking up on this! I reviewed your posting, and like best the 'untapped potential' perspective that you have, as this is something that ARC is really working towards in Bidi Bidi (and across the global operations) as well. We are trying more and more to play an enabling role given the amazing capacity and skills that refugees bring to the table.

Photo of Ishaq null

Great idea that fills a number of needs at once. I was curious about your estimates of South Sudanese vs. Ugandan users and jobs. It seems like they are both based on the 70% South Sudanese, 30% Ugandan population in Bidi Bidi. Are these numbers going to be enforced in some way during implementation, or are they just to provide a rough estimate of the impact on each community? Does it make sense to assume that use of the stoves, solar lighting, and employment will all break down proportionally according to population?

Photo of ARC Uganda

Hi Ishaq,

Thanks for the question. Actually, the population in Bidi Bidi that is South Sudanese is much greater than the population of Ugandan nationals living in the area, so far above a 70% / 30% split. However, there is a priority across the Uganda Refugee Operation that the host community be featured more and more in all work done to benefit refugees. This responds to the nature of refugee settlements in Uganda: Generally, it is not easy to see where the refugee settlement and host community settlements begin and end, and there is a lot of movement between the communities. This differs a lot from some of ARC's other areas of intervention (e.g. Rwanda, South Sudan) where the settlement / camp refugee population has more limited movement to and from the settlement, with limited levels of interaction with host community. Additionally, given the fact that Ugandan nationals / host community members are relatively 'linked in' to the local and regional markets when compared to the newly arrived South Sudanese, it makes good sense to have them working together as that way we can benefit from the special skills sets and capacities that exist within both communities, which are often different. Further, when working in Bidi Bidi, it is very noticeable that the host community has similar challenges as refugees accessing energy, and thus we want to ensure that opportunities afforded to refugees by the project to improve on energy access also include host community members - this is particularly true for improved cook stoves, as all are pulling firewood from the same areas at present to the detriment of the environment both refugees and host communities live within.

Photo of Aline SEJOURNE

Hello ARC Uganda,
Amazing idea on how your project elaborates well the sustainable approach and long-term impacts while responding the emergency needs. Congratulations and good luck!

Photo of ARC Uganda

Thanks for this comment. Yes, as Bidi Bidi transfers out of the active emergency stage (e.g. no longer receiving new arrivals, stabilization of population), it's important in our view to look at interventions that respond in kind to that transition. Both livelihoods promotion and environmental conservation are key areas that often are not directly addressed during emergency stages, something the proposal seeks to work on.

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal

Hi ARC Uganda ! Congratulations on coming this far. I love the user journey map that tells your story very clearly. I found this blog and is this talking about your proposal?

Photo of ARC Uganda

Hi Gayanjith,

Thanks a lot! Glad you checked out BioLite's site as well. Although that blog entry predates the current proposal, it certainly sums up a couple of critical issues related to energy access gaps that the proposal seeks to address. One major item is the redirection of money previously used to access energy (in Evelyn's case, money used previously to keep her mobile charged) towards other productive uses and another that comes out in the blog is the use of the cook stove to actually earn small amounts of income. Given that energy access is often sparse, even having the ability to charge other mobile phones, especially through sustainable tools like the cook stove, presents an opportunity to earn some income. Thanks for the comment!

Photo of Abdala

Great idea

Photo of Kirabo Goraytee

This is an exciting approach to address the needs of the people and to also conserve the environment! Amazing piece of work! it will yield great results in improving refugee Vs host community relations in a wide range of aspects. Am totally impressed by how this project will respond to both environment and health needs of the refugee and the host community since it will be conserving the atmosphere and also promoting the good health of the daily user. Bravo @arcUganda.


Photo of David / Thomas Svarrer / Høyer


We would love to work with your project as the need you want to cover, can also be covered by our solar concentrator and then a dirt storage for the heat, such that one can cook 24/7.

Please let us know if you are interested in collaborating with us. If you check out another of the projects: - WarmLife - then they have the heat storage solution, and we have the solar concentrator solution such that we can store several hundred degrees heat over night and even for many days (depending on the stone storage), and then anyone connected to it, can take out of the stone storage heat for cooking or water warming / boiling, and thereby at least some of the problems you have mentioned are over.

Your calculations on the 20,000 families (100,000 people) generating many tons of CO2 per year are unfortunately correct. We have reached similar results.

In general, combusting 1 kilogram of fossil fuel, generates 2 kilogram of CO2. So, 20,000 families would consume some 4 kilogram of wood per day, thereby roughly 160,000 kilogram of CO2 per day, or, 365 x 160 = 58,400 tonnes of CO2 per year. (This is rough figures, based on 4 kg of fossil fuel per day per family).

Please let us know if you see prospects for collaboration.
Thomas / David
Nexus 7 Solar Concentrator 

Photo of Leah Varsano

This is an exciting way to address the needs of both refugees and host country nationals; really impressed by your solid analysis bridging all three of the focus areas. In our gender analysis during our design phase, we found similarly that women would benefit most significantly from having solar lighting due to the burden of performing food preparation, childcare, and other domestic duties without power. I’m wondering if you could talk more about how this project will actively bring host and refugee communities together, rather than just alleviating the strain and conflict arising from the need to share resources in a context of resource scarcity (I see joint businesses and joint training – would love to know more details!). Do you anticipate that women will participate in these bridging activities?

Photo of ARC Uganda

Hi Leah. Thanks for the comment. In terms of bringing host and refugee communities together outside of alleviating resource strain, there are a few project elements to consider. First, part of the funding source for business start-ups in Bidi Bidi will come from what are called SACCOs in Uganda, basically local-level MFIs that provide capital and reasonable payback terms. Because rates are interest when loans come from SACCOs, both the SACCO itself and the borrower benefit greatly from the arrangement. Given that SACCOs have less red-tape / bureaucracy than traditional MFIs, both refugees and nationals can pretty easily access these funds to cover start up costs. Additionally, priority will be on linking host communities and refugees in joint business planning. A recent Market Analysis ARC conducted showed that not only that both refugees and Ugandan nationals view this as the most effective business structure, but also that both Ugandans and refugees in Yumbe are enthusiastic about opportunities for collaboration, given the different 'markets' that each population presents and increased access to these markets when the business is co-managed by host community and refugee community members. Further, a lot of potential compliance issues are addressed by the link up. It's been seen in Bidi Bidi that the refugees have more than enough business acumen to start up and maintain successful businesses, but there is a bit of a gap there in compliance with Ugandan requirements for businesses (e.g. knowledge of tax payment procedures, licensing requirements) that local host community members are well versed in. Broadly speaking, our thought is that by bringing the communities together with a shared goal / interest in generating and maintaining a successful businesses, we get lot of benefits on the peace-building side in addition to the direct benefits for the environment, refugee / host community security, etc. I hope this answers your question well, and let me know if you are interested in hearing more.

Photo of Samar Hasan

Hi Samantha, please check out this startup in Pakistan called Jaan Pakistan which is working successfully on a similar idea.

Photo of Samantha Brown

Hi Samar, This looks really exciting and interesting. Thank you so much for passing it along! I will keep them in mind, especially because we also have a program in Pakistan.

Photo of Samar Hasan

That's great:) Would love to be of help in future as well.

Photo of Samar Hasan

That's great:) Would love to be of help in future as well.

Photo of Abby Nydam

I love this idea! I am based not far away in Kenya, but my team and I are also working on providing access to solar energy, but in rural Bangladesh. We'd love your feedback since we are doing simliar work. Take a look...

Photo of Samantha Brown

Thanks Abby! I'm glad to hear that you like the idea and had similar thoughts to us. I will check out your idea now.

Photo of ARC Uganda

Thank you Abby! It is exciting to see similar work is being done in Bangladesh.