World: Building resilience through Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE)

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has a long history in implementing energy-related projects and programmes. In the 1980s and 1990s, FAO emphasized the need to ensure energy access to vulnerable populations, and implemented activities such as increasing the supply of woodfuel, improving charcoal conversion efficiency, providing access to fuel-efficient stoves and supporting the sustainable management of natural resources in areas with scarce woodfuel resources.

Between 1983 and 1994, FAO was an implementing agency in the large‑scale programme ‘Fuelwoods Development for Energy in Sudan’. Later on, FAO became involved in the Safe Access to Fuel and Energy initiative, initially through the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Task Force on Safe Access to Firewood and alternative Energy in Humanitarian Settings (IASC Task Force on SAFE).

The Task Force was established in March 2007 ‘to reduce exposure to violence, contribute to the protection of and ease the burden on those populations collecting wood in humanitarian settings worldwide, through solutions which will promote safe access to appropriate energy and reduce environmental impacts while ensuring accountability’ (WFP 2012). The World Food Programme (WFP), the Women’s Refugee Commission and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) co-chaired the Task Force, which consisted of 14 other IASC members and non-member agencies.

The SAFE initiative has since then changed its name to Safe Access to Fuel and Energy to reflect the expansion of the initiative to include the use of energy for purposes other than cooking. It is coordinated through the SAFE Humanitarian Working Group, of which FAO is currently co-chair, and the associated SAFE Steering Committee, of which FAO is an active member.

Under the IASC SAFE Task Force, two central tools were developed:

  • A Decision Tree Diagram on Factors Affecting the Choice of Fuel Strategy in Humanitarian Settings, to help determine which cooking fuel options will be most appropriate in diverse response settings (IASC 2009a).

  • A Matrix on Agency Roles and Responsibilities for ensuring a Coordinated, Multi-Sectoral Fuel Response in Humanitarian Settings, to reduce overlaps and duplication of efforts in responding to energy needs (IASC 2009b).

As outlined in the IASC Matrix on Agency Roles and Responsibilities, FAO has committed to take the lead in carrying out activities in the Environment, Natural Resources Management, Livelihoods and Food Security sectors. While FAO continues to play a lead role in these areas, the Organization is broadening its focus areas in line with other actors.

Leave a Reply