Solar Ovens Beside Huts in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya

Solar ovens are shown beside huts in the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. Photo: Liba Taylor / Getty Images

Though refugee camps are increasingly using renewable sources to provide clean, sustainable forms of energy, such projects are seldom designed, implemented or evaluated in ways to address their potential to provoke conflict. The issue of conflict sensitivity is important because renewable power projects can lead to unequal access to energy, potentially raising tensions among residents of the camp and with host communities.

This report explores this issue by examining how the matter of conflict has been taken into account in the planning and execution of 11 key renewable energy projects in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp.

The findings show that the potential for such projects to contribute to conflict is rarely discussed at any stage, and that data are lacking to discern whether green energy projects have indeed led to increased friction or tension either within the camp or between residents of the camp and the host community.

The authors argue that renewable energy projects can and should take steps to anticipate, prevent, reduce and address discord that can arise from such projects. The authors argue that local community engagement and the inclusion of a wide variety of local stakeholders have the potential to increase awareness of conflict as a potential ramification, and to reduce the likelihood that new conflicts erupts or that existing conflicts are exacerbated.

The report was produced as part of the Conflict Prevention and Low-Carbon Development project, which aims to produce policy-relevant knowledge about the opportunities for conflict-sensitive development and sustaining peace through different renewable energy projects ( ). The project is being undertaken by SEI in partnership with a consortium of institutions based in the UK, Europe and Africa. It is funded by the Swedish research council for sustainable development, FORMAS.