Alum announces new UN strategy for fuel, energy

June 30, 2014

On May 13, Steven T. Corliss (MPP/JD '88) formally announced the UN Refugee Agency's Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) strategy, a global initiative that will help meet the energy needs of refugees living in camps in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Corliss, who earned his master's of public policy in 1988, is director of the UN Refugee Agency's Division of Programme Support & Management.

"Safe access to fuel and energy stands at the intersection of so many things that are of concern to [the United Nations Refugee Agency]—from protection, to nutrition, to health, to the environment, to livelihoods, to education," said Corliss at the formal launch in Geneva. "Fuel and energy is a basic need, like food, water, shelter, health care, education, but it's not a need that's fully captured in our programmes."

According to a UN Refugee Agency press release, the initiative will be launched in refugee camps in five countries in 2014, and another five in 2015. In the first two years, the strategy is expected to provide 175,000 refugees with stoves and 150,000 with solar-powered lanterns. In addition, 2,000 solar-powered street lights will be installed in households and common areas.

The launch will be closely studied to understand the impact on the protection and daily lives of people, explains Corliss. The UN Refugee Agency anticipates that the lighting will enhance security in refugee camps and allow children to study after nightfall. The cook stoves are expected to reduce respiratory illnesses caused by household air pollution and to minimize the need for refugees–mainly women and girls–to search out firewood in the surrounding area, which can expose them to sexual violence, put them in conflict with local residents, and contribute to environmental degradation.