From firewood to briquettes
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. 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 brings in the experience of briquetting with small cooperatives in IDPs and host communities. The partners understood that, in order to really attain change, they will need to respond to the local economic, cultural and environmental conditions and work with local systems and actors.
Technology Implementation Model for Energy (TIME)
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 at least 10 percent. The methodology they use, Technology Implementation Model for Energy (TIME), is novel and should therefore provide them with more innovative solutions.
Dorcas, SEE, and the UoN, see the use of biomass briquettes instead of firewood as 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, with that create income for the target group and also having a positive impact on the environment.
Create viable business cases
The project will first try to create viable business cases that would give briquettes an edge over firewood in the Somali region of Ethiopia. The three partners have recently started with their first user test. The test has been 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, Thematic expert Inclusive Entrepreneurship and Livelihoods 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
How do we make briquettes more affordable to IDPS?
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.
But how do we make them more affordable to IDPs?
Save the environment Ethiopia & university of Nottingham
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.
Innovation lies in the local, tailored approach
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 get commitment for a wider production and usage of briquettes over ﬁrewood.
We have to look at local conditions and capacities and adapt to that.
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.
Movement for modern energy in humanitarian settings
Read the challenges of the Humanitarian Organisations involved in the Accelerator Programme. Would you like to share your energy stories, challenge or solutions? Submit it to our demand and supply platform, Source2Gather. Or join us at the upcoming Energy and Innovation Summit on 13 April 2021. We’re committed to matching today’s challenges with tomorrow’s solutions.
Access To Modern Energy Programme
The AME programme is about doing new things to solve problems and improve the quality of renewable energy access in humanitarian programmes around the world. 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. The programme enables humanitarian organisations to be the catalysts for tackling specific energy challenges, whilst opening themselves up to receiving the knowledge and business insights from energy experts and private-sector partnerships. Ultimately, the projects will provide local insights for humanitarian partnerships to enable cost efficiency and improve quality of humanitarian work. DCHI brings together humanitarian organisations, research and educational institutes, businesses of all sizes and governmental actors. The coalition enables them to jointly find, develop and scale innovative solutions.
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