Eco Inclusion, Pforzheim, Germany (Photo: City of Pforzheim)
Written by Nathalie Bélorgey
Eco Inclusion is an initiative in the city of Pforzheim, Germany that raises awareness on responsible, environmental and health-friendly housing habits for 200 refugees that live in the municipality. In the long-run, Eco Inclusion reduces the cost of energy use both for the municipality and refugee households, while promoting healthy lifestyles by reducing their exposure to health risks related to improper heating and ventilation. The project supports the social integration of refugees by potentially reducing conflicts with landlords and neighbours caused by the over-consumption of energy and inappropriate waste disposal.
The idea for Eco Inclusion is rooted in similar initiatives such as the Energy Fit Kitchens project in the UK, which was transferred and fitted to the local context of Pforzheim to match the specific needs of refugees and policy-makers. The project also integrates methodologies and experiences gained from the Electricity Saving Check (“Stromspar-Check”) initiative in Germany that offers counselling to low-income households provided by former long-term unemployed persons.
Eco Inclusion applies a peer-based approach that involves training a pool of 9 multipliers (seven men and two women) from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Morocco and Syria. The peer multipliers, supported by the Integration Management of the city, are responsible for organising and conducting information and awareness-raising meetings for groups of refugee participants in various settings in the languages of their communities.