Last edited: 30 June 2017
In June 2008, work began spreading solar cooking to the Oure Cassoni Refugee Camp in Chad. Oure Cassoni housed 28,123 refugees. A manufacturing plant was built in the summer of 2008. As of July 2009 about 8,000 solar cookers were in use. A group of refugee women had been trained by the project to manufacture the cookers and twenty-five auxiliary trainers taught the women to solar cook at a rate of 800 women per month. The women in the camp were completely trained and solar cooking as of July 2009.
In early 2005, solar cooking was introduced to Darfur refugees living in the Iridimi Refugee Camp in Chad by Dr. Derk Rijks of the KoZon Foundation. Jewish World Watch’s Solar Cooker Project (SCP) adopted this endeavor in 2006 and expanded it to provide solar cookers and training to other refugee camps.
Replacement cookers were provided for the families, which were made up of 5-7 people per tent, often one woman as the head of household, with up to three of her own children and three orphans.
The area is devoid of vegetation; there is abundant sun and very little rainfall—between 3” and 5” (7.5 - 12.5 cm) yearly. The main food distributed is maize meal, a food the refugees commonly eat. It is sometimes accompanied by a maize-soya-meal mixture, if available. The pulse plants most frequently distributed are yellow and red lentils, white and red beans, and sometimes pigeon peas.
Such foods require cooking for about three hours, depending on the clarity of the sky. The heat from solar cookers is slow and gentle, so while the food stays longer in the pot, it doesn’t stick to the walls or need to be regularly stirred, which is an advantage over the potential to burn food with fire. Women can do other things while the food is cooking, without worrying about stirring. Additionally, there isn’t the lingering smell of smoke as there is with a fire—like women everywhere, these refugee women are conscious about their appearance, even in these very difficult conditions. Solar cookers are also able to be used to pasteurize drinking water, reducing incidence of water-borne diseases especially in children.
The SCP’s partners included Solar Cookers International, which provided technical assistance, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) which manages the camps and coordinates NGO activities, and Tchad Solaire (“Chad Sun”), the NGO that ran the SCP on the ground in Chad.
Organizations providing financial support for this project have included: Netherlands Refugee Foundation, Jewish World Watch, as the North American Coordinator of the Project, the Darfur Assistance Project, the Dora Levit Family Fund, and the Hesed Fund. Logistical and communications support from the UNHCR and CARE was invaluable in continuing project operations.
News and recent developmentsEdit
- June 2017: Derk Rijks, a longtime participant in solar cooking projects in refugee camps, reports that there is an ongoing solar cooking project in this camp.
- August 2009: New Jersery Coalition Responds to the Crisis in Darfur is a group which is currently raising money to provide a solar cooker to each family in the Oure Cassoni Refugee Camp. It has been demonstrated that once the need for women to leave refugee camps is reduced, the amount of violence committed against women and girls falls by over 80%. For more information about this project, click here.
The Benefits of Solar CookingEdit
- Solar cooking helps reduce the need for frequent firewood collection outside the relative safety of the camp, reducing the risk of violence towards women and girls.
- Two solar cookers can save one ton of wood each year.
- There is no need to tend a fire so women are free to do other tasks while food is cooking.
- The production of the solar cookers provides income-generating opportunities for female refugees.
- Solar cooking, as part of an integrated cooking method, reduces the amount of wood necessary for cooking, helping to alleviate tensions between the refugees and locals, whose already slim wood supply was suddenly impacted by thousands of refugees.
- March 2009: Solar Cooker Project Fact Sheet
- Spring 2008: The Women of Iridimi - A film by Barbara Grover
- See Jewish World Watch.