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Credit photo: Mostofa Siraj Mohiuddin
Feb 15, 2024

Bringing light to displacement settlements: The role of solar power

Providing core relief non-food items is crucial for families and individuals forced to flee their homes, often with nothing but clothes on their backs. These core relief items are essential for addressing the immediate needs of displaced populations. Along with items such as plastic sheets for shelter, blankets, kitchen sets, soap, and clothes, aid organizations also distribute solar lights.

Challenges of lighting in displacement camps and the impact on refugees

Lack of lighting in displacement camps can still significantly affect refugees' daily lives. After sunset, camps are often completely dark, limiting activities to daytime and posing safety and education challenges. Children cannot do their homework in the evenings, reducing their chances of completing their education, and many people, especially women and children, feel unsafe walking around the camp after nightfall. Additionally, using kerosene lamps for lighting presents further hazards, causing respiratory problems, convulsions, and dermatitis.

The importance of access to lights and electricity in refugee camps

Access to lights and electricity is crucial. Many medical stations are powered by diesel generators, resulting in high fuel costs and environmental pollution. However, connecting refugee camps to the national grid is often not a viable solution due to their classification as temporary structures and remote locations, making grid connection extremely expensive. Furthermore, many refugee camps are located in countries where even the local population often lacks access to electricity.

Solar power as a sustainable lighting solution for refugee camps

Solar power has emerged as a viable and sustainable solution for bringing lighting into refugee camps in light of these challenges. Technologies such as solar street lights or pico-PV systems, such as solar lanterns, offer long-term savings despite higher upfront costs. The fuel savings for a refugee family that owns a solar light can be significant. Many solar lanterns also have USB ports, allowing refugees to charge their mobile phones, often the only way to communicate with family and friends outside of the camp.

Benefits of solar power in refugee camps: safety, education, and healthcare

Solar power addresses the immediate need for lighting in refugee camps and contributes to improved safety, education, and healthcare. Solar energy offers a lifeline to refugees living in challenging conditions by providing sustainable and cost-effective lighting solutions.

BRIGHT's SunBell: A core relief item transforming refugee camp lighting

BRIGHT's SunBell solar lamp was the first solar lantern added as a core relief item by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The lamp addressed specific challenges, particularly in areas with limited access to electricity and lighting.

Mats Hultgren, the then-chief of the Supply Operations Support Section at UNHCR, emphasized the importance of providing light for security purposes, especially for the safety of women and young people in refugee camps.

The significance of solar power in enhancing safety in refugee camps

Adopting solar power in refugee camps can transform lives by providing access to lighting, enhancing safety, and supporting education and healthcare initiatives. As the world continues to address the needs of forcibly displaced people, the role of solar power in bringing light to their lives cannot be understated.