After two years of darkness, residents in Azraq refugee camp in Jordan now have light, thanks to IKEA’s Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign.

Without light, simple activities in refugee camps such as using the bathroom, preparing meals, collecting water, visiting friends or completing homework after dark become difficult and dangerous, particularly for women and girls. The Brighter Lives for Refugees campaign was set up to solve this problem and is already showing signs of success in Jordan, where a pioneering renewable energy project is underway.

IKEA-donated solar lights turn on as night falls throughout in Azraq Refugee Camp, Al Azraq, Jordan. © UNHCR / Warrick Page.

Azraq is the first refugee camp to be powered by a large-scale solar energy farm. As well as making activities after nightfall safer and easier for Azraq’s residents, the project also benefits surrounding communities as surplus energy is sent back to the Jordanian national grid, free of charge.

The innovative project has transformed the lives of residents in the camp. Mayada arrived ten months ago with her husband and three children. Having lived a comfortable life before the conflict in Damascus, she never imagined having to live without something as basic as electricity.

Before the energy project went ahead, Mayada’s 12-year-old daughter Riham was too scared to go to the communal toilet at night. Now Riham has light to guide her and keep her safe.

On a recent visit to Azraq, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, praised the energy project, saying: “It will allow [people] to do a lot things, cooking, going out of their shelters in a safe manner, especially for women and children, and in general improving their lives.”

Inside a Syrian household who will benefit from the opening of the solar power plant in Azraq Refugee Camp

Inside a Syrian household that will benefit from the opening of the solar power plant in Azraq Refugee Camp.

On May 17th, 2017 Azraq Refugee Camp's solar power plant was officially inaugurated.

The plant being officially inaugurated by the UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner, Kelly Clements, and the CEO of the IKEA foundation, Per Heggenes.

The Azraq energy project is a shining example of how innovative collaborations, the support of generous donors and cutting-edge technology can achieve great things for refugees and their host communities.

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