Linking relief, rehabilitation and development

“Crises and turbulence have become an integral part of any development process. Should
we not, therefore, integrate all forms of aid, all assets at our disposition,
and vary the aid offered depending on what is needed on the ground, and put an
end to the opposition between the emergency and development aid?”

Groupe URD

NRC is about to develop indicators for measuring the impact of their humanitarian
emergency relief and the long term sustainability of the areas where their
camps are set up. It will be important to not only take into account ecological,
but also social and economic prospects in these indicators.

Energy challenges in refugee camps are also linked with protection issues, income, health,
education, the relationship between hosts and displaced. Picking the wrong
solutions can also prevent the future possibility of making a living in the
area where the camp has been located and prevent long term development.

Blanche Renaudin in Groupe URD, a consultancy conducting evaluations for UNHCR, reported how they had seen important progress in the development of fuel efficient ovens
in some camps in Chad, and how this lead to increased initiative from the
person in charge of building process in developing new concepts. UNHCR also has
some reports showing the positive effects of joining host community and
refugees in stove -building projects. At the same time there are several
stories of refugees saving or selling imported technologies, or picking it
apart to make other devices. All of this might lead to a conclusion that
locally produced equipment will lead to both higher technology acceptance and
increased positive effect on the environmental impact.

When analyzing the potential of environmental building and construction in a refugee
context, we also need to see that the LEED and BEEAM tools used to inspire, has
not worked very well in the US or UK since it was started. This is due to the
increase in cost, and the lack of experienced suppliers of the necessary
solutions. It is easy to imagine that this will also be an issue in the
humanitarian aid field. Another argument to look for sustainable solutions
where the refugees or the host community can be participants in the process,
and this requires long term thinking and cooperation with local industry.
Another option is to try to introduce environmental friendly technology also in
the host community so that there will be a demand that span further than the
camp and can affect the acceptance as well.

This is an opportunity for NRC to create indicators that will tell you how to choose
solutions that benefit the environment, but that also affect the social, health
and educational aspects, as well as opportunities for self-reliance of the
refugee on the long term, all in one fell swoop.


About Brita Fladvad Nielsen

I'm a Postdoctoral researcher at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. My focus is on Smart Energy Communities in urban settings as well as design of energy-devices for emergency settings and design for humanitarian markets, especially for refugee camps in rural areas of Africa. I blog about my research approach Design Thinking on and about humanitarian design at . I am also a mother of a child who is deaf, and I blog about her language development on
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