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  • Women in Nepal

    Safe Access to Fuel & Energy

    Cooking Fuel Saves Lives

    In complex emergencies, the humanitarian system tends to address issues of concern by focusing on individual sectors, such as health or food. However, the Women's Refugee Commission has found that when it comes to cooking fuel, an integrated approach is essential. Recognizing the cross-sectoral nature of cooking fuel, the Women's Refugee Commission and the InterAgency Standing Committee Task Force on Safe Access to Firewood and alternative Energy in Humanitarian Settings (SAFE task force) developed a framework outlining the key fuel-related challenges and solutions across eight sectors of humanitarian response. This comprehensive and holistic approach to all eight sectors is necessary to ensure that displaced women and their families have safe access to appropriate cooking fuel. Below is information on the camp coordination and camp management sector.

    The camp coordination and camp management (CCCM) sector is meant to improve living conditions for refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) living in camps. It aims to ensure that they are provided with assistance and protection and that any gaps in services are identified and ad- dressed. Camp managers are also responsible for working with refugee leaders, host governments and local communities to mitigate potential concerns or incidents regarding access to land and natural resources.

    Shelter actors are typically responsible for overseeing the camp site selection and planning process, and for ensuring that shelter materials—usually wood poles, tarps and rope—are provided to beneficiaries when camps are being established. In many regions, they also coordinate the composition and distribution of non-food items, such as cooking pots and buckets for carrying water.

    Camps for displaced people are often located in environmentally fragile areas, which can be particularly negatively impacted by a sudden influx of new residents. The environment and natural resource management sector works to ensure that these potential impacts are mitigated as much as possible from the earliest stages of response, including during the site selection process before the camp is even established. Environment workers also oversee environmental management and rehabilitation projects, such as forest conservation, tree planting and the establishment of green belts and woodlots in areas surrounding camps.

    The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and its implementing partners provide food assistance and fight hunger and malnutrition in humanitarian settings, whether through direct distribution or in exchange for work.

    In addition to establishing health clinics and providing care, health actors undertake education campaigns on the prevention and management of health concerns, such as hand washing and sanitation.

    The SAFE task force combined traditional, school-based education and the information, education and communication (IEC) sectors into one.IEC is a process of raising public awareness to promote positive behavior change through different kinds of learning, including messaging campaigns, demonstrations, dissemination of printed materials, radio or drama and other creative mechanisms. IEC is frequently associated with health activities (promoting breastfeeding, for example), but can be used to raise awareness and spread information about a wide variety of topics. Schools and other learning environments for children and young people are also key venues for awareness raising and information sharing. In many displacement settings, school feeding programs are used to encourage school attendance, reduce burdens on families and improve child nutrition.


    We Have No Choice: Safe Access to Firewood in DRC

    The Women's Refugee Commission and the World Food Programme conducted an assessment in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on access to cooking fuel. This report covers their findings and recommendations.

    The Path to Hope: Congolese Refugee Adolescent Girls in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania [Beneficiary Report | English]

    Congolese Refugee Adolescent Girls at Nyarugusu Camp, Tanzania

    Report for Community Contributors

    The Path to Hope: Congolese Refugee Adolescent Girls in Nyarugusu Refugee Camp, Tanzania [Beneficiary Report | Kiswahili]

    Congolese Refugee Adolescent Girls at Nyarugusu Camp, Tanzania

    Report for Community Contributors - Kiswahili version

    Baseline Survey on Safe Access to and Use of Cooking Energy in Nzulo Camp and the Surrounding Villages in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo

    The North Kivu Province in eastern DRC is facing a violent conflict between the Congolese army and M23 militia, which has led to massive displacement of the population to internally displaced person (IDP) camps and to host communities. The WRC & IRC undertook a survey to assess the living conditions of IDPs in relation to their acquisition and use of cooking fuel.

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


    Rapid Assessment | SAFE in Musasa and Kinama Refugee Camps in Burundi

    Together, Musasa and Kinama refugee camps host some 17,000 refugees from the DRC. Widespread deforestation and a prohibition from leaving the camp prevent refugees from collecting their own firewood. Instead, they rely on stoves and fuel (formerly firewood, now briquettes) distributed by UNHCR and its partners. However, the provided stoves were designed for wood and do not work with briquettes. 

    There are several steps that UNHCR and its partners can do to ensure the health and sustainability of these refugees. These include improving the briquettes and stoves, incorporating livelihoods and environmental programs, and establishing a SAFE working group. 

    UN refugee agency takes a big step to make women’s and girls’ lives SAFEr

    One third of the world's population—and a far greater percentage of its refugees and internally displaced persons —depend on fuel that is dangerous to collect and deadly to use. The new Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Strategy, which the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) formally launched last week in Geneva, will save many lives that would be needlessly lost or broken. The strategy seeks to ensure that refugees and other vulnerable people can meet their energy needs in a safe and sustainable way.

    Read the full blog on Trust.org (this link no longer exists).

    Playing It SAFE: Integrating Energy Into Humanitarian Initiatives

    Until 2007, there was no designated group working to encourage humanitarian organizations to comply with these cooking and lighting standards. As a result, these issues languished and refugees, internally displaced persons, and other crisis-affected populations suffered.

    In response, organizations such as the UN Refugee Agency, Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), UN World Food Programme (WFP), and others, collaborated to form the SAFE Steering Committee, which the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (Alliance) and WRC co-chair.

    Invisible Women Must be Included: WRC at CSW59/Beijing+20

    WRC at CSW59/Beijing+20

    The 2015 Commission on the Status of Women demonstrated great strides since the Beijing Platform for Action was adopted. Here are some of the most important issues.

    Cooking Dinner, Risking Rape

    For refugee women, cooking dinner can be an all-day affair – and a dangerous one. The WRC's decade of work on Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) recently recieved a Green Star Award.

    Cooking Dinner, Risking Rape

    For refugee women, cooking dinner can be an all-day affair – and a dangerous one. Almost 10 years ago, the Women's Refugee Commission (WRC) put the issue of Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) on the humanitarian agenda. Today, the WRC was recognized for its ground-breaking work with a Green Star Award.

    Influx of Refugees and Limited Firewood Leads to Spike in Gender-based Violence

    Forest around Nyarugusu refugee camp

    Violence against women and girls collecting firewood is spiking in and around the refugee camp in Tanzania where more than 100,000 Burundian refugees have sought safety in recent months.

    Uganda Green Energy Program Keeps Refugee Women Safe from Assault

    "Girls told researchers from the Women’s Refugee Commission that they face sexual violence when they collect firewood. The stoves and briquettes could eliminate some of the threat of sexual assault in the settlement."