Today the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, switched on a newly built solar plant in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp. The solar plant, which cost €8.75 million, has been entirely funded by the IKEA Foundation’s Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, through which the IKEA Foundation granted UNHCR a total of €30.8 million for renewable energy and education projects.
The 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant provides electricity to 20,000 Syrian refugees living in almost 5,000 shelters in Azraq camp, covering the energy needs of the two villages connected to the national grid.
Azraq camp opened its doors in April 2014 and is in the desert in northern Jordan, with hot summers and harsh winters. Lack of electricity has been one of the main challenges its residents face, making daily activities difficult, such as cooking, washing clothes, studying or walking safely to the washroom at night, especially for women and children.
Azraq’s solar farm is the first solar plant in the world built in a refugee setting. In Jordan, where the cost of electricity is high, the solar plant will allow UNHCR to provide electricity to families free of cost, savings that UNHCR can now invest in other projects in the camp.
The construction project also provided an income for over 50 refugees, who were trained and employed to build the solar farm under the supervision of the Jordanian solar company Mustakbal, which led the works on site. Some of these workers will be also in charge of maintenance in the future.
“The world’s first solar farm in a refugee camp signals a paradigm shift in how the humanitarian sector supports displaced populations,” said Per Heggenes, CEO of the IKEA Foundation.
“UNHCR Jordan will save millions of dollars, while reducing carbon emissions and improving living conditions for some of the world’s most vulnerable children and families. We are very grateful to everyone involved—especially the IKEA customers and co-workers who took part in the Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, UNHCR, the Jordanian government, EDCO, and most of all, the Syrian and Jordanian people who made this project a reality.”