Journal of Economics and Development, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 266-283. https://doi.org/10.1108/JED-11-2022-0230
Dynamics of refugee settlements and energy provision: the case of forest stocks in Zambia
This article aims to investigate the impact of (1) the establishment of a refugee settlement, (2) the energy demand of a host and refugee population, (3) the residence time of refugees and (4) interventions in the energy sector on sustainable utilization of the forest.
Refugee movements from the Democratic Republic of Congo and settlement construction in a Zambian host society provide the setting. An agent-based model is developed. It uses survey data from 277 Zambian households, geographic information system coordinates and supplementary data inputs.
The future forest stock remains up to 30 years without an influx of refugees. Refugee developments completely deplete the forest over time. The settlement construction severely impacts the forest, while refugees' energy needs seem less significant. Compared with the repatriation of refugees, permanent integration has no influential impact on forest resources. Interventions in the energy sector through alternative sources slow down deforestation. Once a camp is constructed, tree cutting by hosts causes forest covers to decline even if alternative energy is provided.
The analysis is useful for comparable host–refugee settings and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees interventions in settlement situations. Forest and energy sector interventions should involve host and refugee stakeholders.
This article adds value through an agent-based model in the Zambian deforestation–refugee context. The study has a pilot character within the United Nation's Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework. It fills a gap in long-term assessments of refugee presence in local host communities.
Keywords:Agent-based model, Comprehensive refugee response framework, Deforestation, Energy provision, Integration, Sustainable development, Refugee camp, Zambia