Not enough attention
Energy supply for refugees and displaced people is rarely at the top of the agenda for humanitarian groups or host countries. Food, shelter and medical care often take precedence. While these areas are part of the solution in improving the way that energy is delivered, a lack of focus on energy means that potentially better and more integrated solutions are being missed.
Not enough data
Humanitarian organizations rarely record their energy use in any standardized way. There is little reliable information about the cost of energy provision in displacement contexts.
Without accurate data, organizations that might otherwise see opportunities in this area are unable to develop cost–benefit analyses. We are therefore unable to know the true scale of the energy problem.
Not enough long-term funding
Annual budget cycles in the humanitarian world mean energy investments are often impossible to plan and fund.
Host countries often don’t want to acknowledge that displaced people will probably be with them for some time, so they are reluctant to make long-term investments that might create resentment in their own populations.
Not enough expertise
Energy is a complex technical field, and there is a serious shortage of expertise.
Knowledge is spread thinly across the sector, and there is no ‘cluster’ or institution mandated to meet energy needs in an emergency, as there is for water, food and shelter.
Status and rights
The uncertain status of refugees means that they are treated as temporary residents and rarely granted the rights or freedoms of host-country citizens. Yet energy services that are set up as relief measures for a short-term population tend to be relied upon for many years.
Furthermore, without the right to work and earn money in a host country, refugees are driven further into energy poverty.
Refugee settlements are often in hard-to-reach areas, far from towns and utilities. The security situation or terrain can make the provision of energy difficult.