Moving Beyond Informal Action: Sustainable Energy and the Humanitarian Response System

Peter Thomas, Sarah Rosenberg-Jansen, Aimee Jenks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Energy and humanitarian action have long been uneasy bedfellows. In the field, many humanitarian practitioners lack the time or remit to engage with a complex issue such as energy, and the topic to date has received relatively little attention from the private, development and academic sectors. This paper hopes to provide more clarity on energy in forced displacement settings by analysing how energy is interwoven with the humanitarian cluster system. The paper has two aims: (1) to assess existing evidence in the sector and explain the links between energy and each of the humanitarian clusters; and (2) to provide recommendations on how humanitarian response efforts can transition from informal action to comprehensive response on sustainable energy provision. The paper is the first to investigate the role of energy using the cluster system as a framework and contributes to a rapidly evolving field of research and practice on energy in humanitarian contexts. Our analysis demonstrates that energy is not fully integrated within humanitarian programme planning. It highlights pathways for improving humanitarian outcomes enabled by improved energy practices. We identify ten ways clusters can integrate action on energy to support crisis affected communities.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of International Humanitarian Action
Issue number21
Early online date4 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Nov 2021


  • Energy Access
  • Energy Planning
  • Refugees
  • Displacement Settings
  • Humanitarian Response
  • Cluster System


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