Ethiopia: Access to energy: safeguarding refugee women and girls

Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Country: Ethiopia, South Sudan

A comprehensive response to energy needs and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) within Ethiopia’s refugee population

Working to bring together a broad range of stakeholders committed to safeguarding refugees from protection risks, a comprehensive multi-sector approach; to be prototyped in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region, aims to further access to energy solutions for cooking, and the adoption of coordinated mitigation and response interventions in instances of SGBV amongst the South Sudanese refugee population.

Incidences of SGBV while searching for cooking fuel; including rape and physical assault, although underreported are assessed to disproportionately affect the female refugee population of around 211,000.
Such realities are impacted by a high instance of female headed households; a result of the separation of family members during displacement, the death of loved-ones as a result of conflict, with many husbands and fathers opting to remain in South Sudan to safeguard family assets.

Women and children are also exposed to health risks, including respiratory infections from smoke produced by inefficient stoves and the use of firewood as a source of cooking fuel. Children who collect firewood, or stay at home alone to look after family members, are not afforded the opportunity to attend school. In certain instances, families are forced to sell a portion of their limited food rations, to be able to afford cooking fuel. Such coping mechanisms can have serious consequences to their nutritional status.

Prioritized interventions include: the expansion of community-driven mitigation measures; the strengthening of health and psychosocial interventions to support SGBV survivors, together with the delivery of fuel solutions within camps; the prioritization of in-kind support through voucher or cash modalities; and the scaling of biogas and briquette production that supports livelihoods opportunities for refugees and the host community.

Medium and long-term energy solutions will be based on the engagement of all relevant stakeholders, including the refugees and the host community, and the Regional authorities, taking into account cultural acceptability of different approaches, safety aspects, and scalability. A comprehensive study to inform the planned interventions is supporting the engagement of a national Energy and Environment Working Group, to which all partners, in additional to existing humanitarian partners are invited.