Executive Summary - "From experience it is known that the sustainability aspect of energy needs is often not sufficiently addressed by those who provide assistance in humanitarian crisis response operations in post-conflict and post-disaster situations. Despite the fact that UNHCR and other emergency aid organizations have included substantial elements of sustainable energy supply in their policies and plans, implementation is often late or insufficient. The resulting long term humanitarian and ecological effects can be dramatic. In addition, firewood collection poses security problems for women and children, who are forced to travel large distances at the risk of being attacked or raped. There are also significant negative health consequences: exposure to indoor smoke can cause acute respiratory infections which kill many people, especially women and children, also in refugee camps."

"An advocacy and learning project has been set up on the issue of energy use – with a focus on household fuel – in humanitarian crisis response situations, as a cooperative undertaking by the Institute for Environmental Security and IUCN-Netherlands Committee. The goal of this project is to improve the policies and practices of (Dutch) humanitarian aid organisations on fuel-related issues, and to encourage policymakers in the Netherlands to put this issue higher on the agenda."

The quick scan report shows how emergency relief organizations are handling fuel needs in disaster response operations, such as in IDP/refugee camps in Darfur, Ethiopia, DR Congo and Nepal. High demand for firewood and charcoal has led to large-scale deforestation, with huge impacts on future livelihoods of the affected people. In addition, fuel scarcity can lead to the regeneration of (violent) conflicts.

The study also explored various alternative - more sustainable - energy sources and technologies that can be used in such crisis response situations. The report has been published as part of the ‘FUEL-project’, which aims at promoting the integration of sustainable fuel provision in humanitarian crisis response operations.

Download the report here