Access to Clean Energy for Cooking – Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
Since September 2018, UNHCR and IOM have been distributing LPG as cooking fuel to all refugee households to meet their basic needs and mitigate climate change. A cleaner and more efficient alternative to firewood, LPG has become the main cooking fuel used by refugees to meet their daily cooking needs. LPG distribution has significant environmental benefits by reducing carbon emissions, deforestation and associated disaster risks, protection risks such as gender-based violence, and adverse health effects from smoke inhalation. It also promotes food security, nutrition and peaceful coexistence in the camps by reducing competition for resources. To improve fuel efficiency, UNHCR has initiated pre-pilot tests of pressure cookers, which will be further expanded in 2022.
Access to lighting, electrical power and lightning protection
UNHCR has installed thousands of solar streetlights in all camps to improve access to water and sanitation for refugees, reduce the risk of gender-based violence and support a community-based maintenance strategy to encourage the continued operation and maintenance of these vital assets. In addition, to protect refugees from the constant threat of lightning strikes, UNHCR has installed lightning protection systems in all camps and, where necessary, in all newly constructed facilities. To reduce carbon emissions from diesel generators and support lighting, UNHCR has also installed and maintained mini solar grids to provide renewable energy to healthcare facilities, warehouse offices, community facilities and lighting to mitigate climate change.
Environment and Ecosystem Restoration
UNHCR and partners engage refugees and local Bangladeshis to remediate the environment, clean up and prevent waterways, increase resilience to climate shocks by reducing disaster risks from landslides, floods, droughts and fires, with a focus on nature-based solutions such as plantations lies, for example, for slope stabilization and water quality maintenance as well as for the construction of water reservoirs for different uses. Climate change mitigation through mixed species replanting is underway, with high-quality planting material being grown at two nurseries, including trees, bamboo and grasses, to improve soil erosion control. Toddy palm seedlings are also being planted as a nature-based solution to provide additional protection for refugees from lightning strikes, in line with the Bangladesh government’s strategy.
provides refugees and local Bangladeshis with cash for job opportunities, supporting resilience to climate shocks. Rapid environmental impact assessments are carried out to ensure the sustainability of interventions, and communities, particularly youth, are engaged in environmental education, training and awareness-raising on the importance of protecting the environment.
Project for Sustainable Land Management and Environmental Remediation (SuLMER)
Recognizing that both refugee and host communities live in a common environment and can be affected by upstream conditions, UNHCR and partners are working to holistically rehabilitate watersheds, i.e. areas or land basins where all streams and rainfall merge into one drain outlet. This multi-sectoral approach promotes climate resilience and peaceful coexistence and includes stream excavation, bank protection, slope stabilization, greening, plant-based wastewater treatment, drainage improvement and the construction of silt traps, water reservoirs and firebreaks.
Species protection and human-elephant conflict management
Since the camps were set up after the 2017 influx, the risk of human-elephant conflict remains a protection issue for both the refugees and host communities living in the migratory corridor of one of the last remaining wild Asian elephant herds. To defuse human-elephant conflicts in the camps and surrounding areas, volunteers from the Elephant Response Team are being trained and equipped with torches and loudspeakers to discourage elephants from the nearby forests. They use 99 elephant watchtowers to guard the camps. Thorn plants and beehives are erected along camp boundaries to act as a natural deterrent to elephants. Volunteers are also involved in wildlife rescues including snakes which are transported to the local wildlife center run by the Bangladesh Forest Service.
SAFE Plus 2: UN Joint Program
In close coordination with the government, UNHCR is leading the second phase of the joint Safe Access to Fuel and Energy Plus (SAFE+2) program with FAO, WFP and IOM. The program aims to give all refugee households safe access to sufficient and clean cooking energy; to rehabilitate and protect degraded environment and ecosystems in the camps and the surrounding areas; and to increase the resilience of refugee and host community households.