Dorcas, Save the Environment Ethiopia & University of Nottingham
The large majority of Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) are often dependent on firewood for their energy, a fuel that is detrimental to the environment, relatively inefficient, and difficult to attain and, therefore, often a cause of intercommunal conflict. There is an alternative to firewood: briquettes. However, this product is often not affordable and accessible to IDPs. Dorcas partnered up with the University of Nottingham (UoN) and Save the Environment Ethiopia (SEE) to think of some innovative solutions.
Each of the partners bring individual experience. The UoN brings technical skills, energy technology design, and implementation. Save the Environment Ethiopia, a local Ethiopian NGO, brings experience working in refugee camps across the country, as well as some experience of briquette programming. Dorcas understood that, in order to really attain change, they would have to understand and adapt to the local economy, conditions, and parties.
Although Dorcas and SEE have already developed some ideas for circular and sustainable briquette processing, such as a sustainable bamboo farming and the use of invasive plant species, the partnership is looking to re-evaluate and understand the supply and demand side in order to find new ways of decreasing manufacturing costs by 10 percent. The methodology they use, TIME, is novel and should therefore provide them with more innovative solutions.
For Dorcas, SEE, and the UoN, the use of biomass briquettes instead of firewood is an important stepping stone in the behavioural change to a future energy technology. Local context and conditions in many areas require such a stepping stone before committing to, for example, electric cooking. It is for this reason that the three partners are now focusing on pastoralist communities where smaller-scaled business models can be easily scaled at a low-cost, whilst also having a positive impact on the environment.
The project will first try to create viable business cases that would give briquettes an edge over firewood in the Somali region in Eastern Ethiopia. The three partners have recently completed the development of their first user test. The test is an opportunity for the new team to see how some of their ideas translate from the drawing board into reality. It is also a first exciting test for the new partnership that so far has shown to be promising. Ester Mgina, Programme Coordinator Sustainable Livelihoods and WASH at Dorcas: “We complement each other and have been able to take some steps forward together and establish our joint commitment towards the project”.
Innovation steps towards impact
IDPs are dependent on firewood as a fuel for their energy. This is harmful to the environment, difficult to attain, and inefficient.
A solution exists: briquettes.
Each of the partners bring individual experience to the project.
The University of Nottingham brings technical skills, energy technology design, and implementation.
Save the Environment Ethiopia, a local Ethiopian NGO, brings experience of working in refugee camps across the country, as well as some experience of briquette programming.
There are already some ideas on the table: circular bamboo farms and the use of invasive plant species. But the real innovation lies in the local, tailored approach and the attempt to truly understand how the local economy, both supply and demand side, can be shaped and encouraged to commit to the production and usage of briquettes over firewood.
KEEP and Dont Forget Yes, briquettes might not be the end goal in the energy transition. But we have to look at local conditions and capacities and adapt to that. If you can get someone to transition from an open fire to a briquette-oriented solution, then you should see it as a stepping stone to a sustainable future.
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