Solar Cookers International Network (Home)


refuge project update -- 2000 families + and counting

" i cannot finish thanking you brothers and sisters. maybe i assist you one day like you are assisting me. thanks a lot." 

dhubo i.a., refugee in dadaab

a year ago the 30,000 refugees in the kakuma refugee camp in northwest kenya often had to barter away part of their meager food rations for enough fuel to cook the remainder. sci's goal was to reach 500 refugee families in 1995. instead we reached nearly 2000 families in kakuma and over 200 in dadaab! thanks to sci's generous donors, roughly 1/3 of the kakuma refugees now have solar cookers and instructions in their use. our goal for 1996 is that the rest of kakuma families will be reached, including several thousand new refugees from somalia. we continue to scramble to keep up with the demand for more cookers and workshops.

twenty-three refugee women in kakuma volunteered for extra training to teach their neighbors. now, nearly a year later, most are still active, each holding 1-day workshops for up to eight women each week. these instructors report that they and the women they teach are grateful to save scarce fuel and also love the lack of smoke and soot. the project in kakuma, now run almost entirely by refugees themselves, continues under the able direction of gladys n., solar cook, trainer, and herself a refugee. as we go to press, an external, independent evaluation, funded by the united nations high commission for refugees, is gathering more detailed data on the frequency of use and actual fuel savings among kakuma solar cooks.

gladys reports that for moslem refugees the solar cooker is especially helpful during ramadan, allowing them to cook during the daylight hours for their meals after sunset. she also reports that the larger cookits, produced for the larger, extended families in the camp are being tested and appear to work well.

dadaab is a cluster of three refugee camps, and here, too, the 100,000 refugees families are eager to earn solar cookers (see new refugee project, p. 3 of previous review). under the powerful equatorial sun even on cloudy days food can be at least partly cooked. it can then be quickly finished over fire and still save time and a few precious sticks of firewood.

gtz rescue-dadaab, a development agency funded by the german government, also features fuel efficient cook stoves and fireless "haybox" cookers. the introduction of solar cookers is just getting underway, now that a short rainy season is past.

amina abdalla, deputy field coordinator of gtz-rescue - dadaab reports, "awareness campaigns were in october initiated to the general public as project staff gained confidence as solar cooks...a lot of interest was generated...the staff were forced to do demonstrations even during their off days."

people can earn cookers without cash by planting and nurturing 25 tree seedlings for three months or by working in other camp projects for 5 days. a total of 213 solar cookers were disseminated so far: 68 to potential trainers, 73 for those who worked 5 days, 55 who already met the tree requirements (469 others are still nurturing their trees), and a few were purchased by various refugee agency staff.

amina reports that so far, unusually cloudy weather these past months has been the main problem. three cookits were reported damaged by rain, and a few plastic bags have had to be replaced. some refugees have complained about the stringent requirements to earn solar cookers, but amina notes that "for most energy saving devices promoted by rescue the [requirement of] exchange commodities together with stringent training requirements show a positive relationship with utilization."

one refugee, dhubo i.a., wrote, "if i tell what is solar (cooking) it is golden because everything i cook is without using firewood. before this cooking solar i used to find firewood from the forest, in fact many times i met bandits. now no rape, killing or bites (from) snakes and scorpions. i cannot finish thanking you brothers and sisters. maybe i assist you one day like you are assisting me. thanks a lot."

gladys, coordinator in kakuma, and initial trainer in dadaab returned to dadaab in january for follow-up coaching with the refugee women extension workers who will be training others. she noted work of solar cooking is spreading fast and she was often welcomed by chants of "sola-sola."

all who have contributed to sci can be proud to have made possible the strong beginnings of these two pilot projects. our 1996 goal is about 4000 more families in kakuma and at least 2000 families in dadaab. we also hope to begin at least one new project. we are working with the united nations high commission on refugees to explore new projects in other countries hosting large numbers of refugees. with your help, we'll do it!

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