Solar cooking improves lives and empowers women

Solar cooking improves lives and empowers women

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Promotion of Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiencies in Farchana Region in Chad

Darfur refugee camps set up in Chad along the Sudanese border in arid areas east of Abeche have exerted tremendous unsustainable pressure on the land and forests of the region since 2003. The greatest source of this degradation has been the relentless pursuit of firewood required for cooking.

In 2011, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) contracted with Solar Household Energy (SHE) to conduct a “Promotion of Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiencies in Farchana Region in Chad” pilot project introducing five-liter HotPot solar cookers to 50 families in the Gaga refugee camp. SHE developed the HotPot in 2002 and has introduced it in many countries around the world, including in Africa.

To implement the project, SHE engaged Mr. Patrick Fourrier of Bolivia Inti-Sud Soleil (BISS) of France to go on two missions to the Gaga camp in order to establish the project and carry out an assessment. Mr. Fourrier worked with Africare, a US non-profit already active in Gaga camp and UNHCR’s implementation partner for environmental projects there, to distribute the solar cookers, provide training and follow-up, conduct interviews with recipients, and collect monitoring and evaluation data, at baseline and again two months after distribution.

In July 2012, based on the pilot project’s success, Africare delivered 200 additional HotPots to refugee families. With the support of UNHCR, and funding from the COMO Foundation (Singapore) and the Dorothy Ann Foundation (USA), SHE hired Mr. Patrick Fourrier to work with Africare on several objectives: to assess HotPot usage and fuel use impact, to propose a standard monitoring and evaluation methodology for future solar cooker projects, to assess the adequacy of alternative solar cookers, including the three-liter HotPot, and to assess the feasibility of Gold Standard carbon certification for potential upscaling of the project.

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Africare’s report stated that 85% of households use the HotPot, and 50% of households were preparing a meal in the HotPot when the surveys were taken. Average firewood savings were estimated at 16 kg per family per week, or over 64 kg per month. The technical performance of the 3-liter HotPot was found to be comparable to that of the 5-liter HotPot. In discussions, women expressed their wish to own two complete HotPot sets to be able to simultaneously cook the main dish (e.g. rice) and sauce.

Solar Household Energy is currently working with Africare’s successor, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), to scale up the initial 250-HotPot project, based on LWF’s proposal to provide 2,500 HotPots to cover 80% of households in Gaga refugee camp.

For more information, contact us.

Please like us on Facebook, join our Washington, DC area solar cooking meetup group, follow us on Twitter @SolarHouseholdEnergy.

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SALWA MAHAMAT SOULEYMAN: “I learned that with the sun I can cook all my dishes, without having to exit the camp. All women should have a solar cooker.”

KALTOUMA ABDALLAH ISMAIL: “We don’t have enough wood, the solar cooker will help us use less wood.”

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