Adopting a market-based approach to boost energy access in displaced contexts

Energy Energy resources Humanitarian assistance Foreign aid Africa

The Moving Energy Initiative (MEI) has garnered insights and lessons that are widely applicable to interventions in various protracted displacement situations. This paper is based on interviews with the MEI project delivery teams in Burkina Faso, Kenya and the UK, as well as project evaluation consultants from IMC Worldwide. It also makes use of MEI project materials and current literature on markets, energy access and protracted displacement contexts.

This paper evaluates the market-based approaches adopted in the MEI projects in Kenya and Burkina Faso. It articulates how such commercial strategies can be applied to the delivery of energy in displacement settings and compares this to real world examples, highlighting areas for improvement for practitioners and donors in future programming.

This paper should be read in conjunction with the publicly available learning briefs and output documents produced for the MEI research projects in Kenya and Burkina Faso, which provide detailed overviews of each research project. Though MEI project data are limited – due primarily to an insufficient period of time between implementation and evaluation – it is possible to utilize market systems theory to infer the suitability and potential sustainability of these approaches.

The first section of this paper provides an overview of the energy access imperative in protracted displacement settings as well as the rationale for considering market-based approaches for energy provision. The second and third sections of the paper reflect on the experience of adopting commercial approaches in the delivery of energy in refugee camps.

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