Off-grid energy technologies play a vital role in helping vulnerable refugee populations and displaced people live more comfortably by providing basic lighting, electrical charging and cooling services.
The Covid-19 pandemic has severely disrupted the supply chain for off-grid energy products and components, making the repair and repurposing of existing technologies a matter of great humanitarian urgency.
A small research team led by Professor Jamie Cross and Rowan Spear of the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh, in partnership with The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) Innovation Service and Chatham House, have been moved to action. Focusing on refugees and displaced people in Burkina Faso and sub-Saharan Africa, their multidisciplinary rapid research project spotlights the need for a design response to the overlapping refugee and Covid-19 crises by international development agencies and organisations. To ensure the continued health and wellbeing of displaced people who rely on the repair of essential off-grid energy technologies for survival, the research team is:
With the global supply chain of off-grid energy products in upheaval, meeting the essential energy needs of a growing refugee population is a monumental task. This project establishes that repairability in design can and should play a significant role in the humanitarian response to the pandemic, and towards recovery.
We are hugely excited by the potential of this project to extend our knowledge of design challenges around repairability, repurposing and the circular economy in contexts of forced displacement and the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Tim Benton, Research Director, Emerging Risks; Director, Energy, Environment and Resources Programme, Chatham House
Key Benefits of Repair
September 2020 – September 2021
Global Challenges Research Fund, through the Arts & Humanities Research Council
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Image: Julie Ricard/Unsplash.