SOLAR COOKERS FOR DARFURIAN REFUGEES IN CHAD

Since the genocide in the Darfur region in Sudan began in 2003, millions of people have been forced to flee from their homes. Many of these people live in refugee camps in the neighboring country Chad. When the women have to leave these camps to collect fire wood to be able to cook for their families they risk violence and rape from miltias waiting outside. The men stay inside the camps as they risk being killed - the women are "only" raped.

After reaching the relative safety of the refugee camps and already having their lives torn apart, the women are still facing this terrible dilemma every single day.

In order to help this horrendous problem, some people have invented a solar cooker. The cooker is made of a piece of cardbord with silver foil on one side. The sides of the board are flipped upwards and now it is possible to cook with solar power. 

The women are trained to use the solar cookers as it is different than cooking with fire. After being trained for one week, the women have an "exam" where they have to prepare a lunch and an evening meal. Once they can do this, they receive two solar cookers. One cooker can last for one family for one year and costs 5 euros.

The women are also taught how to make thermo baskets by using the empty 50 kg bags from the distributed food from the World Food Programme. This way they can keep their food warm after sunset.

According to the UN Climate Agreement the world's developing countries are paid when they use less CO2. Therefore the use of solar cookers is registered and the families earn money by using them.

The Simple Living Committee is supporting this project by trying to raise money to distribute more solar cookers in the refugee camps. So far the existing organisations have distributed solar cookers in five out of fourteen camps. We wish to help them reach every single camp.

All materials are bought locally and supports the community.

Cooking with solar cookers prevents the children being hurt by fire.

The women are trained to teach each other.

BENEFITS OF SOLAR COOKING DESCRIBED BY THE WOMEN:

  • It protects us against the violence we used to experience while collecting fire wood
  • It protects us against conflicts with the local community
  • It protects us against internal conflicts, when there is only little fire wood to collect and many people in need
  • The sun is free, so we don't have to spend money buying firewood when we can't find any
  • Using the solar cooker frees up time to get water, take care of our children and husbands, study or care for sick neighbours
  • There is no smoke, no coughing, no running nose, no red eyes, we don't get sick as often
  • It's good for the handicapped that they don't have to collect fire wood, for the blind who don't burn themselves and it's easy to use when we are sick
  • The children can take their own food after school without risking burning themselves or setting the hut on fire
  • By using solar cookers we free up time to produce craftsmanship which we can sell at the local market. This way we can earn money to buy milk powder for our babies, tea and sugar or meat for our husbands
  • Cooking with solar cookers requires less water than cooking with fire
  • We can pasteurise water for our babies
  • The food tastes better because it is easier to prevent sand, ashes and flies in the meal
  • We can drink tea all day without using fire wood
  • We can use the thermo bags to keep the food warm at night
  • We can teach our daughters to use the solar cooker so they have food at night if we need to leave

One of the female leaders sums up the use of the solar cookers like this:

"It brings us a sense of justice, security and peace of mind"

We are currently looking for sponsors for this project. No amount is too small: One solar cooker costs 5 € and helps one family for an entire year.

FILM ABOUT SOLAR COOKING:

TAHA CHAMCHIHA Solar Cooking in the Sahel from GoedhartFilm on Vimeo.

Tchad Solaire (www.tchadsolaire.com) is an NGO that helps refugees who escaped from Darfur and are now living in camps along the eastern border of Tchad to make their own solar cookers, thus helping avoid deforestation and increasing their safety (roaming for firewood outside the camps is dangerous)