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What role can energy play in bridging the humanitarian-development divide?

©FAO/Jose Cendon
18/01/2018 18/01/2018

Thursday 18 January 2018

FAO Headquarters, German Room C-269


The importance of energy access for affected populations in the context of acute emergencies and protracted crises cannot be overstated. Nearly 60 million people are currently displaced due to violence and conflict, and an additional 26.4 million people on average are displaced each year by natural disasters. These refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) rely overwhelmingly on traditional solid fuels — wood, coal, animal dung, and agricultural waste — to meet their household needs for cooking, lighting and heating. Hosting communities often face similar challenges. Women spend long hours walking each day to collect firewood to cook their families’ meals, often exposing themselves to the risk of physical and sexual assault. Women also frequently cook over open fires, increasing the risk of respiratory illnesses. In the absence of sufficient cooking fuel, families may under-cook food, sell their food rations, skip meals to buy fuel or switch to less nutritious foods that require less fuel to cook, all of which has a negative impact on nutrition. Population displacements and unsustainable use of traditional biomass have major impacts on natural resources (fodder, land, soil, water and wood…). Furthermore, at the global level, consistent energy access is required to irrigate, process, store, and cook food as well as to preserve vaccines for livestock. Hence, energy plays a crucial role in the agricultural sectors beyond the need for cooking fuel.

The importance of energy has been recognized and is enshrined in the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative and the seventh Sustainable Development Goal. Despite this recognition and the different initiatives, currently 3.04 billion people live without access to clean cooking and 1.06 billion live without electricity. Yet access to fuel and energy is often left out of development and humanitarian response planning and implementation, with dire consequences for the most vulnerable communities as well as lost opportunities to cut fuel costs over time, enable income-generating activities and develop local and sustainable energy markets.


This seminar, co-hosted by the SET4food initiative funded by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) and FAO at the FAO headquarters in Rome, will highlight the implications of this major gap in response and, through pertinent case studies from the field, illustrate how energy needs and related risks and challenges can be better understood, quantified and addressed. Building on these case studies, the seminar will present various fora, working groups and platforms in which information about technologies, approaches, methodologies, good practices and lessons learned can be shared. These segments will lead to an open discussion about how good practices, methodologies and information and knowledge platforms can help to enable energy to bridge the humanitarian-development divide and contribute to sustainable and durable solutions for affected populations as well as the ways in which current approaches can be improved to achieve this goal.

Format and agenda

The format will be a full day seminar which will enable participants to delve deep into the themes highlighted above as well as to allow for interaction and networking. The seminar will include the following:

  • Presentations of case studies, field work, methodologies, guidelines, approaches, technologies and best practices including joint collaboration between organizations in the field;
  • A panel of senior officers and/or experts to discuss ways in which to coordinate and move forward with energy-related interventions in emergencies, protracted crises, natural disasters and for rural development;
  • Informal breakout sessions in which participants can engage in discussions with staff from other organizations on topics that touch upon the multi-sectoral aspects of energy in humanitarian and development contexts.


FAO will ensure that the range of rich discussions and tentative steps forward are captured in a “seminar proceedings” document to which all participants will be invited to provide inputs.

Expected participants

Senior officers, experts and humanitarian and development practitioners from the following organizations are expected to participate:

  • FAO
  • ECHO
  • IFAD
  • IOM
  • Politecnico di Milano
  • University of Udine
  • WFP


8h30 - Registration

9h - Welcome speech – Alexander Jones, Director of the Climate and Environment Division, FAO.

9h15 – How is energy considered in the humanitarian response?

  • FAO: Dominique Burgeon, Director of the Emergency and Rehabilitation Division.
  • WFP: Gernot Laganda, Chief of Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Programmes.
  • IOM: Alberto Ibanez Llario, Solar and WASH specialist, regional office for Eastern Africa.
  • Moderator: Jan Artur Sienczewski, Senior Expert for Policy co-ordination in Humanitarian Affairs, ECHO.

10h – 10h15: Coffee break

10h30 – Energy in protracted crises, case studies from the field.

  • The role of sustainable forest management in the energy supply to displacement settings. Andrey Kushlin, Deputy Director of the Forestry Policy and Resources Division, FAO
  • Coordinating Humanitarian Energy Interventions: Cooking, Lighting and Beyond. Krista J. Riddley, Senior Director, Gender and Humanitarian Programs, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.
  • Coordinating Energy Aid: Maiduguri Local SAFE Working Group. Jonas Bervoets, Operation officer, FAO Nigeria.
  • Power generation in displacement settings, case study. Yanal Madanat, Senior Electrical Engineer Associate, Zaatari camp, UNHCR Jordan.
  • Food storage in refugees and displacement settings: case studies from the SET4food project. Cristina Sonzogni, COOPI.
  • Moderator: Julius Jackson, Technical officer, Agricultural Development Economics Division, FAO.

11h45 – Launch of the SET4Food energy awards: best practices on energy in humanitarian/development contexts.

12h - Demonstration of Elsa cookstove: from residues and waste to clean energy and improved soil fertility. Aventino terrace, 8th floor.

  • Dr. Tiziana Pirelli, FAO and Dr. Alessandro Peressotti, University of Udine.

12h30 – 14h: Lunch.

14h - How to develop local energy markets?

  • Rapid assessment framework Pay-As-You-Go solar as a driver for financial inclusion. Craig Jolley, USAID Global Development Lab, Washington.
  • The role of SMEs in energy access. Djinguereng Mouiba, CEO, FAAM Chad (briquette production).
  • National agreements and processes for LPG development. Renzo Bee, Chairman, Policy, Regulation & Development Advisory Group, the global LPG partnership.
  • Access to Energy: Delivering Development for Better Lives. Mads Uhlin Hansen, CEO, KUBE energy.
  • Moderator: Stephen Twomlow, Climate and Environment Specialist, IFAD.

15h30 – 15h45: Coffee break

15h45 - Energy for aid and development - Initiatives and barriers.

  • How is energy considered in the humanitarian response? Jan Artur Sienczewski, Senior Expert for Policy co-ordination in Humanitarian Affairs, ECHO.
  • The link between energy access and development of the agriculture sector. Olivier Dubois, Energy team leader, Climate and Environment Division, FAO.
  • Financing the transition towards clean cooking. Karan Sehgal, Renewable Energy Technologies Officer, IFAD.
  • Moderator: Dr Jacopo Barbieri, Politecnico di Milano.

17h00 - Conclusion and wrap-up.

  • Jan Artur Sienczewski, Senior Expert for Policy co-ordination in Humanitarian Affairs, ECHO.
  • Julius Jackson, Technical officer, Agricultural Development Economics Division, FAO.
  • Stephen Twomlow, Climate and Environment Specialist, IFAD.
  • Jacopo Barbieri, Politecnico di Milano.

17h30 – 18h30: Light Cocktail Reception (Caracalla room, 8th floor)

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