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Guidance Note - Safe access to firewood and alternative energy in humanitarian settings

Guidance Note - Safe access to firewood and alternative energy in humanitarian settings
Oct 2013

Safe access to cooking fuel can save lives in humanitarian contexts; supporting safe access to sufficient and appropriate cooking fuel for affected populations requires greater attention and a multisectoral approach from the humanitarian system.

The collection, supply, and use of biomass cooking fuel in emergencies creates a myriad of risks for crisis-affected people and their environment, including rape or assault during firewood collection, environmental degradation, and respiratory illnesses caused by the indoor burning of biomass materials.

Firewood collection and charcoal production put an increased strain on already fragile environments, contributing to soil erosion, desertification, increased exposure to natural disasters such as droughts and floods, and to loss of agricultural livelihoods.

Food and energy security are basic requirements in a humanitarian response as well as for poverty reduction and rural development. Not properly addressing fuel needs during a humanitarian response can have a direct bearing on immediate and longer-term food and nutritional security.

FAO’s response to the cooking needs of assisted populations in emergency and recovery contexts focuses on natural resources management and livelihood activities, contributing to increased resilience in crisis and disaster-affected areas.