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Undercurrents is a regular podcast series featuring interviews with Chatham House experts - and others - about the critical underlying issues which are shaping modern society. Hosted by staff from across the institute, each episode goes in-depth on a topic, looking beyond the news to explore the issues shaping global politics.

Chatham House is an independent policy institute based in London. Our mission is to help build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world.

May 16, 2022

Power for refugees is a new two-part podcast on the Undercurrents podcast feed. Over two episodes Ben explores an often-overlooked aspect of humanitarian assistance: access to energy.

From Afghanistan to Ukraine to Sudan - the world is grappling with the consequences that emerge when people are forced to flee from their homes. One factor that does not usually make the headlines is that many people displaced by conflict or natural disasters lack access to the energy services that are necessary for forging dignified lives and livelihoods. 

This second episode examines efforts to provide alternative fuel for cooking in displaced settings in Kenya, Niger and Rwanda, shedding light on what has worked and what has not.

Approximately 81% of refugees rely on basic fuels like wood for cooking. This brings about major difficulties for refugees and the environment, such as illness-inducing fumes from burning wood, the threat of violence to the women and girls who travel often long distances to collect wood, and deforestation.

Since 2015, Chatham House has been researching this issue and convening dialogues to spur action by humanitarians, energy companies and others. Our seminal Heat, Light and Power report provided the first ever comprehensive assessment of access to energy in refugee camps and urban areas with high numbers of refugees.

This two-part podcast is part of the Renewable Energy for Refugees project. Led by Practical Action, the project provides access to affordable and sustainable sources of renewable energy, and improves the health, wellbeing and security of refugees and neighbouring communities.


Speakers: Suzy Huber (Inyenyeri), Benoit Moreno (UNHCR Niger), Syrus Mutua (Sanivation)

Host: Ben Horton

Editor: Jamie Reed Sound Services

Recorded and produced by Chatham House