2016 is a year that has been marked with suffering from the ongoing crises in Nigeria’s north-eastern states and the large number of Internally Displaced Persons; to the terrorist attacks in Europe; and the war in Syria. There has not been a greater time in our history to remember our shared humanity, echoed in this year’s WHD theme, One Humanity.
In marking WHD and One Humanity, our commitments should involve practical sustainable solutions that will make real differences in the lives of the vulnerable. To this end, Youth for Safe Energy in Nigeria, is requesting that those providing humanitarian aid also include access and provision for energy to displaced communities. There are nearly three million displaced people in the North East of Nigeria, forced from their homes by Boko Haram insurgency. Thousands more are being displaced in other parts of the country due to floods.
Youth for Safe Energy in Nigeria has advocated for introducing energy access as a topic at the recently concluded World Humanitarian Summit, and has underlined the importance of providing fuel and energy access to enable crisis-affected populations such as the IDPs in Nigeria to cook, heat, light, and power their homes, communities, and institutions in a safe and sustainable way.
Fuel and energy supply to IDPS has not has not been prioritized, although this need is as important as the need for adequate nutrition and shelter.
The efficiency of humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts is directly affected by the way they are financed. It is not only about how much should be spent on aid, but rather how the money is spent, who it is spent with and in what form. As the WHS recommended, more money and support should be channeled through local organizations and there is a need for strategies to empower youth and women among the displaced people and create mechanisms for promoting skills and entrepreneurship. The choice is to provide humanitarian aid that perpetuates dependency and passivity and apathy or that empowers activates and promotes active community participation.
While observing this year’s WHD, in the spirit of one humanity, Youth for Safe Energy would like the humanitarian community and decision makers to reflect on how the oneness in humanity can be achieved, including through very basic needs such as cooking energy and lighting.