The first Spanish public-private alliance for Humanitarian Action abroad.

Alianza Shire

According to data provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), by the end of 2015 there were more than 65 million displaced persons around the world, forced to flee due to persecution, conflict, repression and natural disasters

In this context, Allianza Shire emerged as a multi-actor alliance, created in 2014 and composed by three leader companies from the energy sector – Iberdrola, Philips Lighting and the ACCIONA Microenergía foundation – together with the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the Innovation and Technology for Development Centre from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (itdUPM) who joined their efforts to develop innovative and sustainable solutions to provide energy to refugees and displaced populations.

The Alianza Shire has focused its efforts in developing a first pilot project in Adi-Harush, one of the refugee camps from Shire, in the north of Ethiopia, where more than 8.000 people from Eritrea are living. The UNHCR and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) have collaborated to this operation.

Energy access-related problems at Adi-Harush are numerous and similar to those of most refugee camps all around the world. The electric supply service generated by the electricity grid is extremely irregular and dangerous, due to the facilities’ low quality. The use of firewood for cooking is progressively causing deforestation in the surrounding environment. Women and girls, in charge of firewood collection must walk longer distances each time, being exposed to safety risks.

The pilot project developed by Alianza Shire in this camp covers the improvement and extension of the electricity grid and includes the installation of protection devices at the communal services, rehabilitation of equipment and connection to new services, such as the primary school or markets hosting 36 small businesses. Furthermore, 63 LED luminaries were installed as public street lighting covering a distance of more than 4km and several communal kitchens were provided with light.

With the aim to provide continuity to the improvements, technicians from Alianza Shire have trained a group of operators composed by refugees and people from the local host community, in charge of the operation and maintenance of equipments.

Alianza Shire fosters the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially the goals nº 7 and nº17

This initiative has started from an alliance of different entities in order to bring safe energy to people living without guarantees to access basic services. It offers solutions that allow proceeding towards the main pledge fixed by the 2030 agenda: no one will be left behind. Alianza Shire fosters the accomplishment of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially the nº 7 “Ensure the access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” and the nº 17 “Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development”.

The director of the itdUPM, Carlos Mataix, has highlighted the impact of the lack of energy access for refugees: “In refugee camps, which become home for many people during long years, life projects and personal progress are often paralyzed. 90% of people who are living in the camps don’t have appropriate access to electricity, according to data from the initiative Moving Energy”.

The pilot project developed in Ethiopia pretends to be a demonstrator, with the aim to learn and analyze the complexity of providing access to energy in refugee camps. But at the same time, this pioneer initiative has achieved results showing the importance of this kind of alliance.

The alliance also provided the humanitarian community with reports that can be adapted to other future interventions. According to Carlos Mataix: “Alianza Shire is not designed as a project, but as a platform bringing useful knowledge and experience for the humanitarian system and its actors”.

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