Energy and environment inter-agency coordination in Cox’s Bazar

Inter-agency coordination project in Bangladesh on energy and environment contributing to food and nutrition security, refugee self-reliance and the livelihoods of thousands of refugees.
Multi-stakeholder & partnership approaches

Energy and environment inter-agency coordination in Cox’s Bazar

Inter-agency coordination project in Bangladesh on energy and environment contributing to food and nutrition security, refugee self-reliance and the livelihoods of thousands of refugees.
People carrying firewood over their shoulders in a camp setting.

Rohingya refugee crisis - Bangladesh: Returning home after collecting wood.

The project in brief

Implemented by

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)




The first FAO-IOM assessment was completed in June 2017.

The different joint assessments were conducted in September 2017.

The FAO LPG pilot project started on January 2018 and ended in December 2018.

The IOM-FAO-WFP SAFE+ project started on 27 November 2018.

The IOM-FAO-WFP SAFE+ project will end on 21 August 2021. There is an expectation that it will be renewed.


Inter-agency coordination project in Bangladesh on energy and environment contributing to food and nutrition security, refugee self-reliance and the livelihoods of thousands of refugees. 

Project aims 

Contribute to the overall food and nutrition security, empowerment and resilience of 125 000 refugees and host community households in Cox’s Bazar through 4 objectives:

  • Targeted households, especially women headed households in host communities, decrease their monthly expenditures related to firewood purchase
  • Vulnerable households in host communities, especially women and girls are more resilient through increased income
  • Refugee households are more resilient after participating in the skills development training
  • Negative environmental impacts of displacement are mitigated through land and forest rehabilitation




VIDEO: Bangladesh Land Stabilization. FAO. 2019.

Resources used 

Technical support from FAO, IOM and WFP.

Current budgetary commitments are $23.5M over a $117M budget.


  • The Office of the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC) of Bangladesh
  • The UN Migration Agency (IOM)
  • The UN World Food Programme (WFP)
  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • The UN Development Programme (UNDP)
  • The United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)
  • Global Affairs Canada
  • Government of Norway
  • Government of Ireland
Woman seated on the floor in front of a cooker with firewood.

Challenges and how they were overcome


The new arrival of 708 000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar since August 2017 represents a considerable increase in firewood demand. The damage to the environment has been significant and threatens the existence of communities in and around the camps. The influx also influences relation between displaced and host communities in terms of livelihood, development, food prices and labour market. 

The damages on the environment due to unsustainable firewood collection have severely increase the vulnerability of local communities to floods and tsunamis. Communities are vulnerable of being cut off from services due to expected floods, potentially for several months. 

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) is a clean source of energy for cooking of fossil origin. It is available and the government of Bangladesh supports its diffusion. However, the cost for refugees could be prohibitive leading them to depend solely on firewood and natural biomass of the area.

The United Nation System does not have a specialized energy agency. For this reason, different agencies support the energy needs of refugees during crisis: FAO, IOM, UNDP, UNHCR and WFP. The different agencies have different operating modalities, monitoring and data collection systems.

Providing LPG cooking sets and a refilling system for 245 000 households which includes 200 000 refugees and 45 000 host community is a logistical challenge.  

How they were overcome

To reduce conflicts between displaced and host communities, the project target both communities and the most vulnerable groups from the host communities. The project also target local farmers and fishermen to develop their activity to support local food demand to reduce food prices.

The land and forestry reforestation programme contributes to the immediate protection of communities by reducing the risks of flash flooding and landslides. With time, the restored tree cover will also help to recharge groundwater and protect from cyclone wind damages.

The high cost of LPG is mitigated by its relative cost compared to firewood on local markets. When taking into account a similar energy content, LPG is cheaper than woodfuel on local markets due to woodfuel scarcity in the area. Furthermore, the project aims at creating sustainable livelihood for both refugee and host communities to reduce the risk of shifting from LPG to woodfuel during the course of the project implementation.   

Through the creation of the EETWG, FAO, IOM, UNHCR and WFP have standardized the operations methods for LPG support. They have also adopted homogenous data collection and monitoring methodologies. FAO’s technical support to the Bangladesh Forestry department has helped to coordinate land restoration activities by identifying hotspots of degradation and weakness points to develop Disaster Risk Reduction activities. 

The whole LPG value chains had to be strengthen to deliver the LPG cooking sets to the beneficiaries starting from the Chittagong port facilities, local roads, porters and shops within the camps thanks to the government of Bangladesh and its partners. The FAO, IOM and WFP project utilizes the WFP SCOPE e-voucher system for beneficiaries to access “fuel wallets” on the SCOPE assistance card. Using the cards, the beneficiaries are able to recharge gas cylinders at participating LPG shops.




VIDEO: The Rohingya Crisis: supporting Refugees and Host Communities. FAO. 2018.


Results of the Good Practice 

  • Energy needs of refugees for cooking and lighting have been taken into account at the onset of the emergency.
  • The Energy & Environment Technical Working Group for Cox’s Bazar has been established.
  • 150 ha of degraded land has been restored.
  • 173 000 LPG cooking sets have been distributed including 6 000 to host communities.
  • 600 000 LPG refills have been performed including 17 000 by host communities.
  • Assessment and monitoring activities are implemented jointly.
  • IOM - FAO and WFP  have developed the Safe Approaches to Fuel and Energy Plus Landscape Restoration and Livelihoods project.

How the project meets the GCR Objectives

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

The good practice reduces the pressure on host countries in four ways:

  • Reducing the reliance of refugees on natural resources by providing alternative energy (LPG) to woodfuel for cooking. The project also support electrification and lighting of the camps. The project has an integrated approach linking energy and environment.
  • The project supports the efforts of the government of Bangladesh on landscape restoration. FAO provides technical support to the Bangladesh Forest Department by establishing technical specifications of proposed solutions (suitable plant species, density etc.) and developing site-specific plans and geospatial plans for interventions.
  • 20% of the beneficiaries are vulnerable host communities heavily impacted by the refugee presence.
  • Local farmers, cooperatives and forest nurseries managers are trained and receive inputs to increase their production (crops, forest seedlings and fisheries) and develop their activities to improve their livelihoods.

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

Refugees benefiting from the LPG distribution and the refills vouchers (through WFP’s SCOPE system), do not rely on the surrounding environment for their energy needs. The LPG value chain implemented in and outside the camps benefit both refugee and host communities. Nutrition and fire safety trainings benefit refugee self-reliance. The project also supports the development of refugee skills. With the set of skills provided, refugee can support their own livelihood, their energy needs and develop their own business. They also receive environmental protection skills.

Next steps 

Continue implementation and resource mobilisation.

People in the street next to a truck with materials.