Electriciens sans frontières will be on site to testify to its intervention in Bangladesh with the Rohingya people very first meeting of the Global Refugee Forum opens today in Geneva. Tomorrow, 17 December 2019, Electriciens sans frontières will be on site to testify to its intervention in Bangladesh with the Rohingya people, as part of an event entitled “Green Responses to Refugee Situations-Urgent Need for Sustainable Energy Solutions“, at the invitation of the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs.
Persecuted in Burma, the Rohingya have had to flee their country; today, nearly one million are refugees in a camp, located near Cox’s Bazar in southern Bangladesh. Electriciens sans frontières was approached by the NGO Friendship to help improve the alarming health and social conditions; there was considerable insecurity in the evenings when going to wells and latrines, particularly for women and children. Although a lot of lighting equipment had been installed, much of it was no longer functioning due to a lack of local skills to maintain or repair it.
Electriciens sans frontières, working closely with Schneider Electric and the NGO Friendship, has designed a training programme in renewable electricity. Rohingya and Bangladeshi apprentices have, in particular been trained in the installation of lighting and power supply equipment, as well as in maintaining and repairing it. The practical results appeared immediately: solar street lighting and solar panel kits were deployed, while individual lights were distributed to those families who needed them most. Sensitive areas have been lighted to increase the refugees’ security.
This training gave the apprentices an opportunity to acquire skills in the field of renewable energy. In addition, they were able to improve their self-sufficiency; they were given basic entrepreneurial training so that they could set up their own business.
Today, with another 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Burma, the exodus to Bangladesh could continue. The need for light and energy is expected to grow, confirming the need for the empowerment of the population. In addition, the approach adopted by Electriciens sans frontières in this project could be replicated in other refugee or IDP camps, wherever the lighting must be sustainable.
Taking into account sustainable energy solutions constitutes a significant step forward in the construction of responses to assist refugees: “Sustainable access to light and electricity enables people to live in greater peace, and offers them an opportunity to return to economic and social activities. It’s helping them to restart their lives.” states Jean-David Mechali, the volunteer managing the Light for the Rohingya project for Electriciens sans frontières.