Enhancing sustainable solutions to refugees’ and host communities’ energy needs in Bangladesh

Enhancing sustainable solutions to refugees’ and host communities’ energy needs in Bangladesh

28/04/2018

The rapid massive influx of new arrivals to Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar from Myanmar after violence erupted on 25 August 2017 increased competition over scarce resources. The lack of access to safe cooking fuel threatens the health and nutrition of refugees and local communities.

Firewood collection has stripped local forests. Refugees – mainly women and children – walk for up to 5 km to collect wood, making them vulnerable to risks including gender-based violence. On average a family needs 4 kg of firewood each day to prepare food on an open fire. Cooking with firewood creates smoke, and women – who cook for their families inside their shelters – suffer from smoke-related health issues.

As part of the Safe Access to Fuel and Energy initiative, FAO and partners identified alternative fuels to decrease cooking time and exposure to smoke. These include compressed rice husk, liquid propane gas, low-cost eco-friendly briquettes and kerosene. FAO is coordinating the distribution of fuel-efficient stoves. These solutions are reducing pressure on forest resources and providing a safe and secure way for people to cook their food.

FAO and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have established an energy and environment technical working group. The group coordinates the selection and equitable provision of alternative energy sources, stoves and other technologies. It works with the Government to plan for large-scale reforestation and landslide mitigation activities to restore habitats and diversity.