Challenges and opportunities of new energy schemes for food security in humanitarian contexts: A selective review

Andreas Waaben Thulstrup, Daphne Carliez, Marco Caniato

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


The purpose of this article is to analyse, in the humanitarian context, the key links between energy and food security, energy-related challenges faced by affected populations, current barriers to sustainable energy access, opportunities for addressing energy needs and existing gaps in current research on energy issues. Ensuring access to energy is a major challenge for some 3.1 billion people living in low- and middle-income countries, especially in remote and off-grid areas. Lack of safe, affordable and sustainable energy for cooking, heating, lighting and powering has cross-sectoral implications and is particularly constrained for the roughly 60 million people living in complex emergencies and protracted crisis. Some 80 percent of refugees and displaced people in camps have little access to energy entailing additional exposure to security risks, health hazards and restricted economic and education opportunities. Often people have no choice but to depend on biomass to meet their immediate energy needs. The traditional use of solid biomass and inefficient technologies for cooking, heating and other energy needs, can be harmful to their well-being and food security while being largely unsustainable. The consumption of safe, healthy and nutritious meals often depends on access to energy, allowing for proper preparation and utilisation of food. The inability for people to meet their energy needs for cooking may seriously affect food and nutrition security not only in terms of utilisation, but also has the potential to impair sustainable food systems. The humanitarian system is unable to face the energy challenge and increasing needs if current response measures are not improved. Actions and a substantial change in policy are needed, in order to significantly reduce the total number of people relying on solid fuels by 2030. This article will discuss how underlying barriers are contributing to inadequate access and use of energy and cooking technologies in humanitarian settings and the subsequent adverse impacts on people's lives and environments. The projected effects of the current energy poverty crisis in humanitarian settings is discussed while some of the solutions to address energy needs, including examples based on innovative technologies and new mechanisms, are examined in general terms. Furthermore, the challenges, opportunities and future areas of interest associated with these technologies and mechanisms are also considered.

TidsskriftSustainable Energy Technologies and Assessments
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)208-219
Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - 2017
Udgivet eksterntJa

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