UNHCR / GRF 2023 ETHIOPIA POWER OF INVESTING

Preview Language:   Original
08-Dec-2023 00:03:56
A partnership between UNHCR and IKEA Foundation is drawing on the skills of refugees and host communities in Ethiopia’s Melkadida to power a refugee camp. UNHCR

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STORY: UNHCR / GRF 2023 ETHIOPIA POWER OF INVESTING
TRT: 03:56
SOURCE: UNHCR
RESTRICTIONS: PLEASE CREDIT UNHCR ON SCREEN
LANGUAGES: ENGLISH / SOMALI / NATS

DATELINE: RECENT, MELKADIDA, ETHIOPIA

SHOTLIST:
1. Various shots, Solar Farms
2. Various shots, plane window of journey to Melkadida
3. Various shots, People working in Melkadida refugee camp and surrounding area
4. Various shots, Per Heggenes, Chief Executive Officer, IKEA Foundation meeting people in Melkadida camp
5. Various shot, Elias, an refugee electrical engineer working in the solar farm and meeting a customer
6. Various shots, Members of the co-operative called Iftiin, who run the IKEA Foundation sponsored solar farm as a business
7. Various shots, application of energy in Melkadida
8. Timelapse of Melkadida Refugee Camp transitioning to night time
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Per Heggenes, Chief Executive Officer, IKEA Foundation:
“Nobody chooses to become a refugee. You just become a refugee because you have no other choice.”
10. SOUNDBITE (English) Per Heggenes, Chief Executive Officer, IKEA Foundation:
“You need a new start in life and the private sector can be a player in creating that new start for a refugee.”
11. SOUNBITE (Somali) Elyas, refugee electrical engineer:
“We didn’t know anyone when I first came to this refugee camp.”
12. SOUNBITE (Somali) Elyas, refugee electrical engineer:
“I have my own family here who all rely on my income.”

STORYLINE:

A partnership between UNHCR and IKEA Foundation is drawing on the skills of refugees and host communities in Ethiopia’s Melkadida to power a refugee camp.

The nearest national electric grid to Ethiopia’s Melkadida Refugee Camp is more than 200 kilometres away. Yet there is power. There is light.

And there is opportunity. It all started with a visionary partnership between the private sector, host communities and refugees.

Most of the over 210,000 refugees in the five camps around Melkadida, in southeastern Ethiopia, were forced to flee conflict and drought in Somalia over the last 12 years. One of them is Elias Nunow Hirab, who arrived in 2011 when he was 14 years old.

“When I first came here, we didn’t know anyone, and my mother started collecting firewood to sell, which kept us fed. [She] was able to pay my school fees, and I started learning English,” he explained. “Then in 2014, [an organization] that supported youth invited us to come and participate in their [training] programmes. I chose electricity because I was interested in technical skills.”

For Elias and other refugees in the camps, this is where preparation met opportunity: IKEA Foundation had started a partnership with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, two years before, and was beginning a transformative approach in the area focusing on livelihood programmes to help foster socio-economic inclusion, sustainable livelihoods and self-reliance.

IKEA Foundation was one of the first and biggest private-sector players to partner with UNHCR and other aid agencies during the initial influx of Somali refugees. It remains the largest philanthropic investment made through UNHCR in any refugee context over the last decade. This long-term engagement created an unparalleled opportunity to test new approaches for strengthening inclusion and collaboration.

IKEA Foundation’s investments into services and infrastructure have benefited both refugees and host communities, providing valuable evidence that has helped inform Ethiopia’s progressive refugee policies and inclusive local development approach known as the Melkadida Compact.

“Residing in camps tends to be very long, very protracted. And the opportunity here was to take a look at how we can deal with that protracted situation in a more productive way,” said Per Heggenes, IKEA Foundation CEO. “How can we do something that makes sure that both the host community and the refugees […] develop and thrive? Energy is absolutely essential for economic development.”

Here in Melkadida’s remote, arid landscape, the brilliance of the sun is a daily reality – one that is being harnessed for the kind of development that Heggenes envisioned.

Elias’s involvement with IKEA Foundation’s sustainable energy programmes began in 2017, when he helped form a cooperative with fellow refugees to install and manage solar-powered streetlights. Because of the electrical training they had received, they were uniquely qualified for the job. Elias and the other cooperative members learned the importance of responding to customer requests for repairs in a timely manner, which quickly won them the respect and support of the community.

When IKEA Foundation decided to invest in the area’s first solar mini grid in 2020, Elias’s cooperative was given the responsibility to help build and operate the new energy system which was designed to supply reliable, clean energy to local households and shops.
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UNHCR
Alternate Title
unifeed231208e
Asset ID
3154188