A recent evaluation of solar cooker use in one Darfuri refugee camp shows significant improvements in families’ lives thanks to the acceptance and use of solar cookers. The Iridimi refugee camp, a camp of over 17,000 Darfur refugees in Chad, now has 15,000 CooKits, an affordable, simple solar cooker developed by Solar Cookers International. The report, “Solar Cooker Project Evaluation: Iridimi Refugee Camp, Chad,” prepared by Brie Loskota, a program evaluator and the associate director for the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at the University of Southern California, in October 2007 describes and quantifies the benefits to the refugees.
As in most of Africa, meals at the Iridimi Camp were usually prepared over a three stone fire, requiring fuel wood to cook, heat water, or make tea. Each family in the camp receives one bundle of fuel wood per month, an insufficient amount for preparing the month’s meals. For additional wood, families would either trade food rations for wood, or leave the camp to gather wood on their own, exposing themselves to attack by local bandits or the Janjaweed militia. The CooKits were first introduced to the Iridimi camp in 2005 to decrease the need for fuel wood and to increase the safety of the women who leave the camp in search of wood. One zone chief even noted that “There is more happiness, less violence, less insecurity, and I now eat three times per day [as a result of the solar cookers].”