Renewable Energy for Refugees (RE4R)

The problem

Communities need energy to power their businesses, schools and hospitals. Parents need it for earning an income, and for cooking and refrigerating food. And, as daylight fades, children need it for safety, studying, and playing with family and friends. Yet, worldwide, millions of impoverished families lack access to safe, reliable energy sources.

For refugee families, lack of energy access has an even greater impact on their lives. There are currently 8.7 million refugees and displaced people living in camps and only 11% have access to reliable energy sources and lighting and the cost of energy is high. The average displaced household will spend at least $200 per year on fuel, which amounts to $2.1 billion each year worldwide.

Lack of access to energy stops refugees from being able to rebuild their lives and keeps them reliant on aid.

What we’re doing to help

Objective: Make renewable energy access an essential element of provision of services to displaced communities

Renewable Energy for Refugees (RE4R) project in Jordan and Rwanda.

Location: Irbid, Jordan / Kigeme, Nyabiheke and Gihembe refugee camps, Rwanda
Number of beneficiaries: 60,000
Project date: April 2017 - September 2020
Principal funders: IKEA Foundation
Funding: €8,119,584 

Through the Renewable Energy for Refugees project, Practical Action and UNHCR, supported by the IKEA Foundation, will help refugees and their host communities access finance, training, technology and expertise to facilitate renewable energy powering homes, schools, health clinics and businesses.

The project will bring clean renewable energy for lighting, cooking and powering tools and appliances, allowing entrepreneurs to flourish and move from reliance on aid to economic independence.

The situations refugees in Jordan and Rwanda find themselves in are vastly different, but the project will demonstrate how access to energy can transform people’s lives, whatever their circumstances.

Key project aims:

  • The project will be working with 10,000 refugees in Irbid, Jordan. Those set to benefit from the project are predominantly Syrian and have fled the civil war in their own country. Many now live with local families. They face high unemployment and low job prospects.
  • In Rwanda, the project will work with 50,000 refugees in the Kigeme, Nyabiheke, and Gihembe refugee camps. Refugee communities are Congolese and have fled the civil war and internal conflict. There is currently very little energy infrastructure. 


The IKEA Foundation aims to improve opportunities for children and youth in some of the world's poorest communities by funding holistic, long-term programmes that can create substantial, lasting change.

UNHCR, The United Nations Refugee Agency, is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. 

For more information on our work on humanitarian energy, please see our policy page.

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