Reducing Environmental Damage Caused by the Collection of Cooking Fuel by Refugees


  • Maureen Lynch Research for Refugees International



refugee camps, ecology, environmental impact, cooking technologies, fuelwood, gender


The collection of fuelwood by large numbers of internally displaced people and refugees for the purpose of providing energy for food preparation and cooking can cause environmental devastation and adversely affect the socio-economic balance with local populations. There is no simple solution. Reducing environmental impact, and thus easing societal tensions, requires addressing a complex set of issues including supply of and demand for natural resources, aid agency operations, willingness to utilize refugee knowledge and experience, the effects of forced displacement, poverty, and lack of land. The key to establishing sustainable solutions, whether fuel or non-fuel alternatives, requires being able to identify and understand the interaction between human needs and behaviour and the local environment. This paper explores the scope of the problem and offers case examples, describes efforts taken and alternatives available, presents outcomes of evaluations that have been performed, and outlines lessons learned to be used in future crises.


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How to Cite

Lynch, M. (2002). Reducing Environmental Damage Caused by the Collection of Cooking Fuel by Refugees. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 21(1), 18–27.

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