Qatari firm to offer solar training for Syrian refugees

Qatar-based renewable energy development firm GreenGulf Inc. is set to install solar power systems at the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan in an effort to improve living conditions and in the process offer young Syrians housed there the opportunity to take part in a solar training program.

According to Qatar’s Gulf Times, GreenGulf is partnering on the training project with the Norwegian Refugee Council, London-based non-profit organization iPlatform and the University of Jordan.

As part of the program, GreeGulf will install solar power systems to provide supplementary sources of electricity for the camp, a settlement of 83,000 people located south of the Syrian border, with the aim of improving the quality of life and security at the site, which is afflicted by power shortages.

The Zaatari refugee camp. Photo: U.S. Department of State

The initiative is the result of GreenGulf’s partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council, which already provides courses to train residents between 16 and 30 in a variety of skills, including carpentry, welding and electrical engineering.

“GreenGulf Inc. hopes that the introduction of solar power technology will inspire a new generation of Syrian electrical engineers, and has partnered with the University of Jordan to provide students with academic and vocational training in the subject,” Gulf Times reported, citing a statement.

The newspaper quoted GreeGulf co-founder Omran al-Kuwari, who said the program was initiated in response to the Syrian refugee crisis that presents the biggest challenge facing the international community.

“The program is about a lot more than providing a source of much-needed solar power to the Zaatari camp,” al-Kuwari said. “It is about providing knowledge, too, which we hope will assist the refugees’ future employment opportunities.”

GreenGulf is looking to launch the program next year. If successful, the organizers plan to scale up the solar training initiative and deploy it in other areas and disaster zones and expand it to include other professional skills that can be taught using online platforms.

According to Chatham House, which recently conducted the first ever global analysis of energy use by refugees, high costs and poor supply are undermining humanitarian assistance. Nearly 90% of the approximately 9 million people living in refugee camps have no access to electricity and many lack any form of lighting at night, according to a recent Chatham House report. It adds that energy poverty in refugee settlements is not on the radar of international initiatives and humanitarian agencies are ill- equipped to deal with the scale of need.

The Norwegian Refugee Council is working with Chatham House, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), GVEP International and other organizations on the Moving Energy Initiative, which aims to meet the energy needs of refugees and internally displaced persons.