Safe Access to Fuel and Energy: Rapid Assessment Report for Ruzizi DRC

A rapid assessment of current needs and challenges related to cooking fuel, protection risks, and environmental degradation in Ruzizi Plain, South Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).


Women’s Refugee Commission launched Protecting Women and the Environment of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, a three-year project with the aim of documenting needs, challenges, and potential solutions for safe access to cooking fuel and energy resources for displaced communities in the region. The project comes at a critical juncture, as the combination of natural population growth and long-term, large-scale, and frequent displacement put enormous pressure on the previously abundant natural resources. 

A key component of this project is to conduct assessments to determine current needs and challenges related to cooking fuel, protection risks, and environmental degradation in order to establish a baseline for future programming. It is in this context that WRC undertook a rapid assessment in Ruzizi Plain, South Kivu.

Key Recommendations

  • Establish a SAFE working group in Uvira. A SAFE working group in Uvira will help to facilitate a more coordinated, predictable, timely, and effective response to the fuel and energy needs of displaced and crisis-affected populations in Ruzizi Plain. It is recommended that that working group be led the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP). 
  • Promote reforestation and the creation of woodlots. In Ruzizi Plain, deforestation is a key concern and a priority of the DRC government. The promotion of woodlots (sustainably managed firewood/timber harvesting areas, typically planted with fast-growing trees) can help to reverse the trend of deforestation, increase the supply of firewood/timber available to displaced and host populations, and reduce tensions between communities. It will also help to support the development of environmental management skills among the population and facilitate employment opportunities.
  • Promote the right of women to own land.  In Ruzizi Plain, women are the principal farmers and firewood collectors, yet they do not have the right to own land. A lack of land ownership puts women at greater risk while collecting firewood and prevents them from being able to reforest land. Moreover, when women have secure rights to land, they are better able to provide for their families.
  • Undertake research on the most appropriate fuel alternatives. Actions have been undertaken to promote fuel-efficient stoves (FES), but there is no clear data on the efficiency and the impact of FES at the household level. There is significant capacity in the region for alternative fuel and energy sources, such as solar, thermal energy, and gas. Research should be undertaken to identify appropriate cooking technologies and safe alternatives to firewood.


  • Modified: Thursday, June 04, 2015
  • Published: