Solar Cookers – Iridimi refugee camp, Chad

Posted on 07. Apr, 2010 by in Chad

GP: “We love Solar Ovens at Green Planet… This is an old article but still has meaning”

Since early 2005, Solar Cookers International (SCI) has partnered with KoZon Foundation, a Dutch charity, to provide solar cookers and related training to Darfur refugees living in Iridimi refugee camp. The strength of this partnership is based on KoZon’s work disseminating CooKits in the Sahel region of western Africa and SCI’s decade of experience in refugee camps.

Located in Chad, the camp houses 17000 refugees that fled the Darfur region of Sudan. Gender-based violence during firewood collection was one factor leading to the displacement of Darfur’s population.

Iridimi camp administrators have distributed improved wood stoves and kerosene cookers to the refugees, but these devices still rely on scarce or expensive energy sources. Solar cookers not only reduce dependence on these fuels by about one-third, but also decrease health risks associated with smoky cooking fires and lessen the risk of physical violence that women and children face while venturing outside the camp to gather firewood. Equally important is the capability of solar cookers to pasteurize drinking water, reducing incidence of water-borne diseases, especially in children.

Groups of five or six people learn to solar cook by attending five-day instructional workshops, led by one of 32 certified trainers. Once trained, the new solar cooks receive two CooKits — enough to cook grains and sauce at the same time.

A CooKit production workshop was completed in early 2006, and since then women have earned income assembling CooKits and conducting trainings. Later that year, women with weaving skills were taught to make retained-heat cookers — known as hay baskets — that allow families to maximize their fuel savings. As of mid-2007, according to project leader Derk Rijks, virtually all 4,000 families in the camp “have been trained and are effectively using the CooKits.” Refugee women in Iridimi camp have persevered in promoting solar cooking even as the security situation has grown increasingly unstable.

KoZon has been asked by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to expand CooKit distribution and training activities to other eastern Chad refugee camps. SCI is committed to supporting this larger initiative.

Given the growing public interest in the conflict in Darfur and its repercussions, SCI and funding partner Jewish World Watch believe that a single institution administering donations in support of solar cookers for Darfur refugees in Chad will best serve the interest of the refugees. Therefore, as of 15 March, 2007, Jewish World Watch will manage donations to and inquiries related to this initiative. SCI continues as technical advisor to KoZon, the project implementer. Please note that solar cookers are not shipped to Iridimi camp; they are assembled on-site by refugees.

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