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Solar energy provides educational opportunities for refugees in Kenya /

The Smart Solar ICT Nuru Access Hub in Kakuma Refugee Camp

Low carbon initiatives in refugee settings can be set up adhoc, and are therefore often unsustainable. In addition, there can be a heavy reliance on traditional biomass fuel due to scarcity of energy, adversely affecting the environment.

However: Sustainable and environmentally friendly initiatives are possible. In 2017, we worked on the Smart Solar ICT Nuru Access Hub in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, to create a low carbon, sustainable energy initiative. The aim of the initiative was to address the problems faced by this very specific community, including the lack of ICT facilities, reliable energy, and community safe spaces- particularly for women and girls and marginalised groups.

Using a very specific solar technology, we designed and supplied the Hub under the Moving Energy Initiative, funded by DFID (now FCDO) and implemented by Energy 4 Impact and a consortium of specialist partners.

When designing the hub, we ensured that it would be self-sustaining financially, whilst at the same time bringing services to the community, advantageous to both the refugees and host community. In 2018, the hub became officially known as the Nuru (meaning ‘light’) Access Hub. Since then,  8,000 men, women and children have made use of it, benefitting from one of the following services or educational opportunities:

ICT/Internet and Office Services: They allow students to study, and also gives them access to facilities which assist in employment searches.

Vocational Training through E-Learning: These are formal ICT courses targeted at youth from both the refugee and host community population. In addition, the hub hosts sexual and reproductive health workshops.

Reliable Clean Energy: 300 people use the hub yearly for device charging to connect with family and friends.

Youth Life Skills and Training: These skills assist refugees with job searches, work ethics and skills to foster productivity and creativity.

Safe Space for Social Cohesion and Interaction: The hub prides itself being a safe space for men, women and children from all backgrounds and ethnicities, promoting interaction through education.

Nearly five years after its opening, Resilience Action International- a refugee led organisation focusing on education and economic empowerment for refugees and displaced people- are still running the Nuru Access Hub, offering the majority of services at an affordable rate so the hub can continue operating effectively and efficiently long into the future.