Local entrepreneurs sell Lighting Global Quality Verified products in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Lighting Global work in Conflict States and Humanitarian Aid

The World Bank Group has had a long history of supporting disaster and crisis response, including supporting internally displaced populations and governments that host large refugee communities.

Today’s humanitarian emergencies are very different from past crises: displaced populations are growing, budgets are shrinking, and needs are evolving. As a result, humanitarian assistance has also changed. In recent emergencies, mobile phones have been critical for family reunification; c­hildren in protracted situations are enrolled in education programs that require lighting for nighttime studies; long and dangerous nighttime journeys have been aided by solar lighting devices; and in emergency settings, lanterns can provide light to clinics without electricity, or serve as a backup in case of power outages or generators that fail or have or run out of fuel.

Lighting Global works to raise awareness among relief organizations and governments on the importance of sustainable, portable, and reliable energy access in situations of crisis. Today, many off-grid energy kits are capable of providing not only lighting, but also mobile phone charging, both essential for protection, education, emergency telecommunication, immediate humanitarian response, and logistics — key pillars of the UN’s humanitarian and emergency response system.  

Our support has included:

  • Joining the Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE), a consortium that brings together humanitarian agencies and energy experts to share knowledge and ideas;
  • Drafting key off-grid solar suggestions for the Global Plan of Action (GPA) – a framework recommending accelerated progress toward the vision of safe access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy services for all displaced people by 2030;
  • Evaluating energy conditions in refugee camps to explore opportunities that exist or might be possible for the pico-solar and solar home kit solutions. Refugee camps are substantial, yet mostly untapped markets that, if activated, could benefit both the refugees and the host communities – and allow refugees to lead more self-determined lives;
  • Facilitating private sector energy interventions in fragile and conflicted-affected situations and countries –
    • Working closely with the Liberian Rural & Renewable Energy Agency (RREA) to procure solar lanterns for distribution to the Ebola Response Teams and local health care facilities in Liberia to include in Ebola prevention kits,
    • Providing market intelligence on energy consumption patterns and expenditures targeting the most vulnerable segments of the refugee population in Lebanon,
    • In Afghanistan, home to one of the lowest rates of electricity usage in the world, our team in Kabul supports business development support to the first PAYGo operator entering the local market. Additionally, we promote quality verified solar products through several trade events and consumer awareness campaigns, working toward a sustainable market for high-quality off-grid lighting solutions.
  • Providing technical guidance on procuring large quantities of pico-solar and solar home system (SHS) kits for humanitarian aid. Our team helps governments and relief organizations understand the importance of quality standards, key procurement considerations, and a step-by-step guide to bulk-ordering.

Users of bulk-procured off-grid energy kits generally do not have the option to select the devices purchased on their behalf. Aid organizations, therefore, have a responsibility to procure high quality products that meet the needs of their programs’ beneficiaries. By procuring products that meet Lighting Global Quality Standards, aid organizations can have confidence in the quality and performance of the off-grid energy kits they are providing, and they also receive ancillary benefits such as strengthened tenders, increased product selection, and simplified bid evaluation.

Why Lighting Global quality-verified products?

  • Consumer protection: In commercial markets, consumers have the chance to compare and then choose products. Humanitarian aid agencies, however, are typically responsible for identifying and distributing the products. By procuring Lighting Global quality-verified products, aid agencies can have confidence that high-quality energy systems are being provided to the users.
  • Easy and reliable comparison among products: Lighting Global Specifications Sheets are available for each quality-verified product and they provide a trusted, third-party resource for a direct comparison of the performance of products. Moreover, product options can be easily researched via Lighting Global’s database of products that have been tested at accredited laboratories and meet the Standards.
  • Reduced spending: Aid agencies that procure Lighting Global quality-verified products save on budget expenditure. Since Lighting Global quality-verified products undergo thorough testing, there is no need for retesting to verify quality, durability, and truth-in-advertising. Moreover, procurement of Lighting Global quality-verified products reduces risk for aid agencies, as they have the confidence that they are investing in high-quality, durable equipment.
  • Reduced market distortion: With relief aid attempting to transition toward development, it is imperative to take into consideration how interventions impact markets and how they may cause aid dependency. Deployment of cheaper, poor-quality products can undermine consumer confidence, resulting in market spoilage. A negative first impression of stand-alone solar products can irreparably damage the market for high quality pico-solar products and SHS kits. In the humanitarian aid context, products are often resold inside and outside the camps or the distribution areas. The influx of poor-quality products (usually at lower-than-market prices) negatively distorts the entire market.
  • Competitiveness of the tender: Lighting Global has established the world’s most widely recognized quality assurance framework for pico-solar products and SHS kits. The Program has tested hundreds of off-grid solar products and supports the sale of millions of quality-verified products. The expansive and diverse selection of quality-verified products from a large number of manufacturers ensures a competitive tender. Quality-verified products are listed on the Products page of Lighting Global’s website.
  • Access to technical expertise: The Lighting Global Quality Assurance team provides support to aid organizations, helping them to better understand what is needed for specific situations and how to develop appropriate technical requirements.
  • Adherence to international frameworks: By procuring quality-verified products, organizations align themselves with existing efforts in the energy access space. The Lighting Global Quality Assurance framework uses internationally accepted test methods and quality standards. The Global Plan of Action for Sustainable Energy Solutions in Situations of Displacement calls for the development of tighter relationships between aid organizations and technical specialists like Lighting Global. The Plan of Action also advocates for improved consumer protection, which can be achieved by referencing the Lighting Global Quality Assurance framework.

For further information contact bds@lightingglobal.org