Since the refugee crisis erupted in August 2017, the United Nations migration agency has launched ambitious environmentally sustainable actions in its humanitarian portfolio, actions that both improve services to beneficiaries and reduce its carbon footprint.
These include: A comprehensive programme to limit heavy deforestation by distributing Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) to Rohingya refugees and the Bangladeshi host community. Launched in 2018, this has seen 111,542 canisters given to families.
LPG eliminates the need for wood burning and has set the stage for a reforestation effort. This initiative also improves indoor air quality in shelters, protecting the health of women and girls and other family members from smoke-induced illnesses.
There is also a reforestation drive which has already planted 775,000 trees on 778 hectares (the equivalent of 1,089 football pitches), in and around the refugee camps. In addition to absorbing carbon dioxide – trees reduce landslide risk by increasing soil retention.
To the credit of the UN agency, 1,889 solar lamps have been distributed to households and placed in public areas in and around the Rohingya refugee camps. In addition to increasing protection and safety, residents are less reliant on wood fires or oil lamps.
IOM is equally installing solar electricity systems and battery storage at most of its 23 local health clinics to provide clean, reliable electricity. We aim to increase this green electrification effort in other facilities.
The humanitarian world’s largest solar-powered well system was launched this year, bringing over 20,000 litres of clean water to beneficiaries daily, supplied by a 60 KVa solar park.
Those who know better say IOM’s tree-planting initiative could lead up to 37 million pounds of C02 emissions reduction since 2018.
Deputy Chief of Mission Manuel Pereira said that the efforts have both local and global significance: ‘’Bangladesh is a climate vulnerable country and one that is on the forefront of migration.
‘’We urge other partners, donors and governments to stand with us on this fight. The lessons learned from our host community and government support projects are significant to other parts of Bangladesh and to its objectives for the 2030 Agenda and SDGs.’’