A Joule in the Life of A Refugee

By Columbia University, Global Collaboratory

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Statement of Need

The Syrian conflict has increased the number of refugees in Lebanon to more than 1.3 million, a quarter of the total population in the country. Infrastructure capacity is overstretched, impacting the lives of both locals and refugees. Providing adequate energy access is difficult in the humanitarian world, where political challenges, a shortage of energy specialists in the field, and limited private sector investment are a few of the many factors that prevent substantial improvements from reaching refugees. While innovation within camps is a popular focus of existing research, the intersection of energy access and household economics remains underexplored. The Moving Energy Initiative, a collaboration between the research institution Chatham House and humanitarian aid organizations, has identified this knowledge gap as an area for further research, as successful future initiatives will depend on a thorough understanding of refugees’ energy needs and economic constraints in refugee camps.

Our Objective

Our interdisciplinary project seeks to fill this gap by conducting field research in three refugee camps in Lebanon. Partnering with the Layan Refugee Camp Network, the goal of this project will be two-fold:

(1) to conduct a basic energy systems assessment of each camp in order to understand how much energy is used and how it is gathered, distributed, and paid for;

(2) to interview camp residents in order to better understand the role of energy services in their lives, the opportunity costs involved, and what support would be most beneficial from their perspectives.

The project’s final deliverable will be a report highlighting and contextualizing our findings, made available to the Layan Refugee Camp Network and research institutions such as the Chatham House.

We Need Your Help!

We need your help to conduct ten days of field research this spring in Lebanon. Working closely with the Layan Refugee Camp Network, we are raising money to cover our airfare and transportation within Lebanon -- by far the largest expense involved in this project. Any extra funding we receive above our budget will go to support education initiatives within the camp.

Your donation will be matched dollar for dollar by our partner the Prometheus Institute for Sustainable Development. This means if you donate $30 we will automatically receive $60! In addition, all donations are tax deductible!

*A Paypal account is not necessary to make a donation. The site will redirect you to the Paypal page but you will have the option of donating without signing in

People behind the project

We -- Mona, Jennifer, Fatine, and Marie -- are four graduate students studying energy policy at SIPA, Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. This independent research project is part of the Global Collaboratory. This initiative aims to expand students' professional networks and experience in the global energy and environment field.

Learn more about the Layan Refugee Camp Network here: http://layangcc.net/

Learn more about the Energy and Environment Concentration at Sipa: https://sipa.columbia.edu/academics/concentrations...

Learn more about the Prometheus Institute:


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Team Members

Marie von Hafften

Fatine Jabre

Jennifer Ching

Mona Sultan