A stakeholder workshop was held at the Jupiter Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia a few weeks back. Participants at the workshop included two researchers from the department of product design at NTNU (including myself), the three master students conducting the project http://www.idethiopia.tumblr.com, the Gaia Association (the ethanol stove project), UNHCR Environmental branch in Addis Abeba, UNHCR Energy and Environment, Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre and Network, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering at Mekelle University, the Former Women Fuel Wood Carriers Association and The Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA).
During a one day workshop, experiences and issues regarded as relevant to access to clean energy sources for humanitarian interventions were dicussed and analyzed. Three groups focused on three different goals and developed a strategy while reflecting upon country specific, product specific and system specific challenges to improve the situation for refugees and the ecological and social environment that surrounds them.
The method of case based reasoning (story telling to map goals, barriers and strategies) combined with backcasting was well received and the groups were discussing issues energetically throughout the workshop. One participants uttered that “people are vomiting ideas!”.
All groups seemed to agree that the event had raised some important issues that needed to be discussed further and that increased parnterships locally and globally are needed to achieve the task at hand. Although the data has not been analyzed yet, some of the barriers mentioned that prevent implementation and introduction of suitable technologies are linked to differing agendas, a need for UNHCR to better assimilate information from the ground and to identify local parnters.
The student group “ID Ethiopia” emphasized that the extreme resource scarcity in some of the refugee camp locations call for an increased focus on joining mulitple resources, human and physical, to solve the problem at hand. During our field trips to the three camps surrounding Jijiga in the Somali region, we have witnessed an urgent need for energy alterantives and the project group is currently midway in their task to design a product service system as a solution to this. They further explained that the Gaia Association’s work is valuable for the implementation of a more holistic fuel supply for camps in the future and that the stove and distribution system should be a combined solution. We were also discussing the opportunity for a future cooperation between NTNU, the Horn of Africa network and Mekelle University.
The next step will be to analyze the data from the workshop and interviews with stakeholders thoroughly and compare them to the previous study, before planning the last workshop that will be conducted in Oslo in spring.
I would like to spend this oportunity to thank the participants in Ethiopia that contributed to the workshop, and particularly the assistance from Gaia and UNHCR.