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Former refugee brings solar to the Tongogara camp where he once lived » Yale Climate Connections

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The Tongogara refugee camp in Zimbabwe is home to thousands of refugees from all over Africa.

The camp is decades old, but many parts still do not have electricity.

“The majority of the households, they are not connected to the electricity grid. So many refugees staying there, they do not have access to sustainable energy for lighting, for cooking,” says renewable energy engineer Yves Umuhoza.

In 1998, he and his family left Burundi as refugees and briefly lived in Tongogara.

Now he’s a grad student at the Polytechnic University of Turin in Italy and the founder of Assorted Energies International, a refugee-led solar energy program.

The group has been working to distribute solar-powered lights to people with disabilities in Tongogara. And it’s installed solar panels at two youth community centers, so people can now use the spaces to access the internet and charge their phones.

When he goes back to visit, Umuhoza says he’s happy to see people gathered in the centers.

“Like at nighttime … students they are reading, others they just come to access Wi-Fi, to just sit around and talk,” he says.

So solar energy is helping improve the lives of people living at Tongogara.

Reporting credit: Ethan Freedman/ChavoBart Digital Media



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