FAO in Ethiopia

FAO and partners support natural resource management through sustainable wood fuel use strategies

A South Sudanese refugee in Ethiopia's Gambella region cooking a meal using firewood

South Sudanese refugees and host communities will benefit from the support

18 August 2016. Gambella. A project that aimed to support the energy needs of over 200 000 South Sudanese refugees in five camps and host communities has been launched by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Ethiopia’s Gambella Region. 

The region currently hosts over 270 000 South Sudanese refugees in six camps, where the lengthy stay of the refugees and continued influx as a result of the ongoing conflict in South Sudan have placed considerable pressure on the region’s natural resources, as camp residents rely entirely on forest trees for their domestic energy needs.

Speaking at the inception workshop in Gambella town, Mr Amadou Allahoury Diallo, FAO Representative in Ethiopia noted that, “The need for cooking and energy in densely populated refugee camps is leading to a significant deterioration of surrounding forests and woodlands, as refugees generally have little alternative to wood fuel.”

“Establishing a strategy for the supply of energy in refugee camps is essential to mitigate the environmental impacts and reduce tension between refugees and host communities,” he added.

The newly launched project explores appropriate options for the sustainable management of energy supply and demand to address the needs of people in crisis-hit and host communities.

“The pressure has serious consequences on the natural resources resulting in land degradation and ecosystem disruption as well as protection risks including sexual and gender-based violence, assault, harassment and sensitivity to social unrest,” said Philippe Creppy, Head of the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Gambella Sub-office. He added, “UNHCR recognizes this not only as major leap in collaboration but also a step forwards towards a more advanced relationship that would help solve the energy poverty in camps through implementing more sustainable, reliable, culturally accepted, affordable and environmentally friendly cooking energy options.”

The project targets to work in five refugee camps. Representing the regional government, His Excellency Mr. GatLuak Tut, the President of the region said, “High demand for the use of wood fuel and energy sources has caused natural resources depletion and deforestation.” He went on explaining, “We need to exert joint efforts to find solutions for domestic energy sources so as to reduce deforestation and land degradation.”   

Currently Ethiopia hosts more than 735 000 South Sudanese, Eritrean and Somali refugees in 23 camps in Gambella, Afar, Tigray and Somali egional states. Gambella region hosts the highest refugee population from the South Sudan. More than three-fifths of the refugees are women and children. 

The project, entitled “Supporting the energy needs of refugees and host communities through the establishment of sustainable wood fuel management strategies and plans in Ethiopia”, is being implemented by FAO in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Gambella Regional State, UNHCR and NGOs.


Tamiru Legesse

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Email: [email protected]