Project Aims

Without better data on current energy consumption, systems, and lived experiences, practitioners, policymakers, and humanitarian NGOs are faced with considerable barriers in delivering cleaner and more cost-effective energy sources in displacement settings.

The objectives of the project were three-fold:
1) co-design and implement energy systems that embed the lived experience of the community and individuals in the displaced setting,
2) promote capacity building of refugees through engagement with new technologies
3) expand the evidence base to aid decisions about the demand for energy services in the humanitarian context.

By designing tools and protocols for energy systems that encourage the transition to clean, sustainable and appropriate energy solutions in the displaced setting, the project would contribute to SDG7 and SDG13 in the displaced setting. Devising energy design protocols that sought to be cross-cutting, inclusive and integrated would result in systems that are flexible and responsive to rapid changes in community needs and transferrable into other energy poor contexts. The energy design protocols and data gathered from the project would be instrumental in identifying strategies for the co-design and deployment of energy interventions, addressing the gap in skills required for maintenance and managing community expectations and governance for the long-term sustainability of future interventions.


Primary research for the HEED project was undertaken for refugee camps in Rwanda and for internally displaced people in Nepal. These sites were selected because they allowed for a comparison of energy cultures across distinct contexts of protracted settlement and forced displacement. Fieldwork in both locations was guided by our specific research questions. The methodology for the HEED project consists of four separate but overlapping phases:

Phase 1: Project set up, mapping and baseline survey of current energy practice (September 2017 – June 2018). Phase 1 involved a series of activities to better understand the contexts within which the HEED project was working. These activities included field visits to the research sites, project meetings to better understand the interface between engineering and social policy interventions and training. Two, five-day research methods training programs in Quantitative and Qualitative Methods for Research on Energy and Forced Displacement was designed by all members of the project team to build research capacity around data collection and analysis. Recruitment of researchers was coordinated through Practical Action and their relevant country networks reaching out to universities and third-party organisations. A baseline survey was conducted using the quantitative and qualitative research methods tool kits developed by Practical Action on energy in contexts of forced displacement. The activities included field visits and baseline surveys: Gihembe -211 households, 64 enterprises, and 10 community facilities; Kigeme -2o2 households, 54 enterprises, and 12 community facilities; Nyabiheke -209 households, 37 enterprises, and 13 community facilities.

Phase 2: D4D and E4E workshops (June – December 2018) Phase 2 saw ‘Design for Displacement (D4D)’ workshops to develop energy designs and ‘Energy for End users (E4E)’ workshops with a number of key user groups including young people, women, social entrepreneurs, local business members and NGO representatives.The inclusion of displaced communities in the design process, saw them become involved in the day-to-day monitoring of these systems post-installation, increased the utilisation of the systems and improved understanding of the benefits of renewable energy.

Phase 3: Energy system implementation for cooking, lighting and power (January – December 2019). An outcome of phases 1 and 2 was a number of energy interventions to deploy in Nepal and Rwanda. These systems were developed to better understand how energy would be used and to promote opportunities for energy efficiency, social cohesion and economic growth in displaced communities. The systems aimed to avoid inappropriate or misuse of the limited energy available to the refugee camp and encourage good use of power (e.g. during peak hours for solar renewable energy) and discourage irresponsible or unnecessary use of energy (e.g. limiting the use of energy for a period of time). Data from each energy system deployment is being monitored and uploaded to the data portal.

Gihembe: Eight advanced solar street lights and four solar street lights.

Kigeme – PV-battery micro-grid to supply electricity to a playground and two nursery buildings and Sensors based cooking behaviour study with 20 households.

Nyabiheke – One Standalone Solar System supplying electricity for a community hall and 40 mobile solar lanterns.

Phase 4: Analysis, dissemination and engagement with industry and policymakers (January – September 2020)

The dissemination of lessons learnt from HEED are on-going throughout the lifetime of the project. We are engaging with a wide range of users and stakeholders to maximize the impact of the project. This includes conference presentations, journal publications, reports, guides and training. Details on publications can be found here.