The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, switched on today the newly constructed solar plant in Jordan’s Azraq refugee camp. Funded by the IKEA Foundation’s Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign, the solar farm has brought renewable power to a population that lived for two and a half years with only sporadic access to electricity and will contribute to the Jordan national energy strategy to achieve a green economy by 2020.
The 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) plant will allow UNHCR to provide affordable and sustainable 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. Each family can now connect a fridge, a TV, a fan, have light inside the shelter and charge their phones, which is critical for refugees to keep in contact with their relatives abroad.
Azraq camp opened its doors in April 2014 and is located in a desert area in northern Jordan, with hot summers and harsh winters. The lack of electricity has been one of the main challenges faced by its residents, making daily activities difficult, such as cooking, washing the clothes, studying or walking safely to the washroom at night, especially for women and children.
The introduction of electricity in January 2017 addressed these challenges and significantly improved the well being of Azraq residents. For the last two and a half years, refugees have been living with the sole support of solar lanterns distributed on their arrival and street lights installed in one of the villages, both funded by the IKEA Foundation.
The Azraq’s solar farm is the first solar plant built in a refugee setting in the world. In Jordan, where the cost of electricity is high, the solar plant will allow UNHCR to provide electricity to Azraq camp residents free of cost, savings that will be invested in other needed assistance.