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Refugee camps - temporary or permanent- are ideal sites for renewable energy deployment and innovation testing

Refugee camps are becoming long term [we'll hope they are not permanent ] large cities, and power supply is a critical deficiency. Renewable energy deployment would improve conditions dramatically, reduce the cost of support, and enable economic development. Imagine turning camps into renewable energy research and development centers- testing new ideas, manufacturing devices for themselves and the surrounding community, residents becoming educated, and technical experts able to move out to spread the technology, etc,

Photo of Phil Evans
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Some articles to give a sense of the refugee camp as a community:
Kenya
http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2013-11-28-despite-threats-the-worlds-largest-refugee-camp-is-here-to-stay/#.VHnTXDHF-So
Jordan
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/25/zaatari-camp-makeshift-city-jordan 
Turkey
This comprehensive article looks at a Turkish camp that is well funded and developing an economy- replicating ordinary cities in a meager way, and reviving the cruel arguments that making refugees more comfortable just supports and further enables conficts that create them.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/16/magazine/how-to-build-a-perfect-refugee-camp.html?_r=0

The potential impact of renewables is not lost on observers:
http://www.thenational.ae/uae/science/power-refugee-camps-and-you-empower-their-refugees

Visionaries have been talking about this for a while and are making progress; India just joined:
http://volkerthomsen.com/irena-the-international-renewable-energy-agency/ 

The UN High Commission on Refugees is acknowledging this formally now, and taking baby steps. 
http://energy-l.iisd.org/news/unhcr-launches-safe-access-to-fuel-and-energy-strategy-for-refugees/ 

This link to UN working papers offers a window into the UN work, and a link to a comprehensive review of the effectiveness of foreign aid for sustainable energy: 
http://www.wider.unu.edu/publications/working-papers/2013/en_GB/wp2013-055/

International Aid agencies are stepping in to lead the way.
http://www.itpau.com.au/projects/international-development-projects/

And by example, Norway is exporting its well-developed biogas technology to help:
http://www.nrc.no/?did=9186732

Here is an organization that is in the Washington Beltway, and might be positioned to help:
http://www.greenenergycouncil.com/

Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post

  • A combination of various types of renewable energy

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Photo of Deborah Paterson

Hi Phil, this is such a great application. Not only are they encouraging the switch to renewable energy, but they are empowering these refugees by teaching skills which can be sold in the local markets and giving them better opportunities to integrate into local society. What are some of the issues that arise for the refugees/governments involved? Perhaps an outline of those might inspire some thought on how to make this even more of a positive experience for all involved. Do you know anyone who has worked/lived in one? Maybe you could interview them and share it with the community?

Photo of Phil Evans

i just wrote to the UNHCR office to see if we can connect with a contact there, and invited them to participate with us.

I'll send some similar letters to Save the Children and OXFAM, Doctors without Borders, and other highly involved donor groups who have a lot of experience to bring to bear on this.

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