- Azraq refugee camp in Jordan recently became the first solar-powered refugee camp on earth.
- “Thanks to solar energy, we now feel like we have rejoined the 21st century,” said one refugee after solar power ended frequent power outages.
- Solar energy has also brought jobs into Jordanian refugee camps, but private investment remains crucial if green initiatives are to expand in UN-managed camps.
ZAATARI, JORDAN—Facing dwindling funds and a humanitarian disaster stretching into its sixth year, the United Nations and Syrian refugees reached for the sun.
In Jordan, the UN and its partners have hooked up the first solar-powered refugee camps in the world – a test as to whether the international aid community can step beyond the emergency relief approach and provide sustainable solutions that benefit refugees, host communities, and the environment long after each crisis ends.
Jordan, which imports 98 percent of its energy needs, has struggled to manage the cost of the country’s 1.3 million Syrian refugees. The Zaatari camp, established in 2012 at the edge of Jordan’s northern desert, a few miles from the Syrian border, houses 80,000 Syrian refugees and has become Jordan’s fourth biggest population center; Azraq, home to 32,000 refugees, is in the middle of the country’s eastern desert.