Energy – March 18th, 2019
On March 13th the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) and DCHI organized the kick-off workshop of the Access to Modern Energy pilot. The goal was to explore this issue together with representatives of humanitarian- and development organisations as well as with energy experts in the room, and to commit to concrete steps to develop joint concept notes for innovative pilots. The overarching ambition was to create a ‘ripple effect’ for the future approach to the theme of Access to Modern Energy, with the overall aim to achieve sustainable access to modern energy in humanitarian settings.
The workshop had a broad range of attendees, with organisations such as Unicef, Care, Mercy Corps, Dorcas and the Netherlands Red Cross, alongside energy experts coming from organisations such as Hivos, SNV, and AVSI. Through contributions by Catherine Hampton from Chatham House who presented on the ‘Moving Energy Initiative’ with the help of Practical Action, as well as by Marcel Raats from RVO, who presented lessons learned from the ENDEV programme, the workshop provided an informative insight into current innovative projects in the field.
What became clear from the presentations, is that a transformation is needed at three levels. Firstly, the topic of Access to Modern Energy itself is still relatively new to humanitarian action, and therefore still poorly understood and acknowledged. Secondly, to step up engagement on this issue, humanitarian organisations need to explore working together with other partners than usual, including development organisations and private sector. Thirdly, to address concerns with access to energy in a sustainable manner, humanitarian organisations need to explore the opportunities that market-based approaches offer for impactful programming.
Discussing their field-level experiences from Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, participants had the opportunity to compare the challenges they had identified together with their colleagues at the field-level, as well as the opportunities for transformative changes as described above. Shared barriers across the five countries ranged from lacking technical knowledge and local vocational training on sustainable energy, and a lack of functioning markets, to perceived institutional barriers such as short-term funding cycles, that do not easily allow for the longer term investments needed to realise sustainable solutions.
At the same time it was encouraging to see how many current projects with a link to energy are being facilitated across countries by the organisations present, and the opportunities to build on lessons learned this presents. A key example were several innovations using solar energy for cooking stoves and lighting being tried out in different places, alongside different projects to increase employment in refugee communities creating opportunities within the energy sector.
After this successful kick-off, the organisations will now use the connections they made among each other and with the energy experts participating, to create new partnerships and consolidate their joint ideas in concept notes. These will be presented during the next meeting to receive peer to peer feedback. Jointly, these ideas that are deemed most promising, will than be developed into full proposals.
Are you curious to know what the final pilot projects will be and which organisations will take part ? Keep a close eye on the website and our social media for updates.
Access to Modern Energy is increasingly recognized as an area of humanitarian concern. If communities affected by crises go without proper access to energy, it becomes impossible for them to meet the basic needs of life. In fact, if humanitarian organisations do not adequately address access to energy in their programmes, they risk contributing to the very same problems they aim to solve.