Solar Powering Solutions: UNHCR Powers Up Waste Management Efforts in Refugee Camps


In the world of forced displacement, where access to basic services is a constant struggle, refugee camps face unique challenges in waste management. Traditional waste collection and disposal infrastructure is often nonexistent or inadequate, leading to environmental and health risks. Recognizing this, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has embraced innovative solar-powered solutions to enhance waste management in refugee camps.

Investing in Solar Technology:

UNHCR’s deployment of solar power in refugee camps involves the installation of solar panels to generate electricity. This electricity powers various waste management equipment, such as:

  • Bio digesters for organic waste decomposition.
  • Compactors for reducing the volume of solid waste.
  • Hand-cranked shredders for paper and plastic.
  • Electric fencing to deter animal intrusion into dump sites.

Benefits of Solar Power:

The transition to solar power offers numerous benefits for refugee camps, including:

  • Environmental Sustainability: Reduces landfilling, minimizes air and water pollution.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Long-term savings through avoided disposal costs.
  • Scalability: Adaptable to the evolving needs of the camp population.
  • Reliability: Sustainable and uninterrupted power supply.

Case Studies:

The UNHCR has implemented successful solar-powered waste management projects in various refugee camps across the globe. For example, in the Zaatari camp in Jordan, a 100kW solar power plant generates electricity to power a waste management center, benefitting over 80,000 refugees.

Looking Ahead:

As the world grapples with the largest refugee crisis in history, the UNHCR’s investment in solar powering solutions demonstrates its commitment to creating sustainable and resilient environments for refugees. By leveraging renewable energy, the agency empowers refugees to take control of their waste management and contribute to the environmental sustainability of their surroundings.


1. What are the main challenges in waste management in refugee camps?

Answer: Limited or non-existent infrastructure, lack of electricity, and large volumes of waste generated by a transient population.

2. How does solar power help address these challenges?

Answer: It provides a reliable and sustainable energy source to power essential waste management equipment.

3. What are the environmental benefits of solar-powered waste management?

Answer: Reduced landfilling, air pollution, and water pollution.

4. How cost-effective is this approach?

Answer: Long-term cost savings through avoided disposal costs and reduced environmental impact.


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