Solar solutions for displaced communities
The Arab region is experiencing one of the most dramatic periods of change in its history - with an escalation of conflict, a dramatic rise in poverty, and the emergence of more than 20 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs). Of vital importance to the goal of recovering from crisis and putting communities back on the path to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, most of the places experiencing conflict and hosting displaced communities are also the very parts of the region that are facing high levels of energy insecurity. Leading UNDP’s local partnerships in the Arab region, one sees first-hand how lack of energy access can hold back the prospects for recovery and resilience in communities facing protracted displacement. The ability of communities to cope with and rapidly recover from crisis hinges in many ways on their ability to regain access to energy. But too often countries affected by crisis are unable to rapidly bring back the type of energy systems needed for recovery. In such contexts, decentralized solutions are receiving greater attention as a means of addressing needs while setting the foundations for longer-term resilience. In this regard, UNDP has commenced a series of new initiatives in the Arab region, led by our Country Offices and adapted to very localized needs of displaced communities. As elaborated in a new UNDP regional policy brief capturing lessons from these initiatives, we see energy access not as an end in itself, but as an enabler of resilience and putting communities on a path to recovery. Yemen, for example, is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with millions facing famine risk and lack of access to water and sanitation, with breakdown of hundreds of health facilities and an unprecedented outbreak of cholera. All such challenges are exacerbated by the energy crisis in the country. Yemen was already one of the region’s most energy poor countries, and the ongoing conflict has dramatically reduced conventional energy supplies every further.