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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Alternative Energy Provision in Emergency Relief Situations

The recent increase in humanitarian emergencies has led to unseen levels of forcibly displaced persons worldwide. Food, shelter, security and energy are fundamental in this context and yet, despite the slow integration of energy issues in humanitarian responses, energy access remains a challenge for displaced people.

Energy needs and provision in refugee camps and settlements have not been investigated enough and there is much potential to address the gaps in the literature. The purpose of the study is to explore the current energy needs and gaps in provision as well as recognise suitable interventions to improve energy access in emergency relief situations.

Data on energy needs and provision was collected through interviews, observations and a questionnaire in five different sites, a refugee camp in Dunkirk, Norrent-Fontes and Calais, two spontaneous settlements in France and two informal settlements in Tal Hayat, Lebanon. Energy provision, affected by context, was different at each site and did not always respond to the energy needs expressed by refugees. It was inferred from interactions with study participants that energy was essential for thermal comfort, cooking and phone charging.

Energy access should be widely recognized within the global humanitarian aid system and integrated in emergency relief responses. Decision-makers at the policy level and NGOs need to seek alternative solutions to the current energy provision to address the needs of displaced people.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.