Last updated: February 5, 2014
Most significant solar cooking projects
- The Solar Cooker Project helps to improve the lives of Darfur refugees living in Chad - More than 50,000 people in four Darfur refugee camps in Eastern Chad are using locally made solar CooKits designed by Solar Cookers International. The project is run by Tchad Solaire and by the British NGO CORD. It is funded by Jewish World Watch and the Kozon Foundation. The project has improved the safety and survival of the women in the refugee camps. Previously, they were faced with dangerous and arduous trips outside the camps to collect scarce firewood. Two of the most extensive projects are at the Touloum Refugee Camp and the Iridimi Refugee Camp.
- See other Most significant solar cooking projects worldwide.
News and Recent Developments
- November 2013: Only solar cooking makes something like this possible - In 2009 several hundred women from Darfur refugee camps gathered together, each carrying a pot of raw food and a folded 12" x 12" cardboard and aluminum foil CooKit. They were preparing a farewell dinner for an international team that had been evaluating their solar cooker project. The women opened their CooKits and left their pots of food to cook unattended for 90 minutes while they sat in the shade. The result was a banquet for hundreds of people. If each of these woman had been required to haul a fuel-efficient stove and a bundle of wood to this location along with her pot of food, she would have had to stay out in the sun, along with the other women, to tend her fire through the cooking process. Imagine hundreds of fires burning in the desert sun to cook what the ladies in this photo cooked with no fuel and no fire at all.
- May 2013: Solar cookers preparing food for 30,000 people daily at the refugee camps in Chad - Derk Rijks, a volunteer with the KoZon Foundation, recently responded to Jewish World Watch with this note of appreciation. "Last week I was at the Touloum Refugee Camp. The chief of the workshop, Fatimé, told me there were new arrivals. We walked over to the last of the dunes and there was one woman who had just walked in with four kids, sitting in the sand. Her village was bombed one week ago, and she had fled to escape the Janjaweed, walking for seven nights. Fatimé looked at me, I nodded " yes", and in the next few hours she had her cooker and started her solar cooker training, even before she had a shelter. No words needed, no paper needed. That is the way your contribution works." He also explains, in the six camps where they work in Chad, and in the villages of the population around the camps, about 29,000 families now do solar cooking, and about 130,000 people are eating solar cooked meals. In this part of the world solar cooking works about 300 days a year. From the empty bags of the food shipped in by the World Food Programme, and the snippets of aluminum foil and cardboard left over from the manufacture of the cookers, the refugees make "thermos baskets" to keep the food, cooked between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., warm until the evening meal at 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. They do not have to search for wood so much any more and there are far fewer conflicts for that reason. As one of the elected representatives of the women refugees said: "Solar cooking brings us justice and peace".
- December 2012: Jewish World Watch, originator of the Solar Cooker Project for Sudanese refugees, reviews their current programs at several of the refugee camps in Chad – As a result of a joint security force between Chad and Sudan, violence against women has declined some since the project began seven years ago. Cord, their partner at the Farchana refugee camp, sees solar cooking as a way to keep girls in school, and not spending hours finding fuelwood for cooking. For others, the project has meant help for the environment and the air quality conditions for women previously using open fires. When the Jewish World Watch contingent first visited the camps many years ago, the refugees had just arrived and the encampment was meant to be temporary. The hope and expectation was that within a few months or a couple of years at most; they would return to their homes. But now, seven years later, it is clear that returning to Darfur is not a reality and the camps are turning into permanent settlements. As a result, the programs for the refugees must begin to move away from survival resources and begin to address ways of achieving self-sufficiency and permanence. In other words, helping to create a life, not an existence. Future larger scale solutions will be needed to address and benefit the surrounding communities, as well as the refugee camps, to help with the integration of the Sudanese residents. Read more...
- May 2011: Solar Household Energy (SHE) was commissioned to test acceptance of the HotPot solar oven in the Gaga refugee camp in eastern Chad. It shelters 20,000 people from Darfur in Western Sudan. Patrick Fourrier, a French solar cooking expert affiliated with Bolivia Inti Sud Soleil, completed the first phase of the project last month. He will also ensure that local support systems set in place to encourage continued use of the solar ovens are working effectively. Read more in the SHE spring update 2011.
- January 2011: Ten solar box cookers have recently been completed, and been placed in the hands of ten community leaders, who have just finished half of their training provided by PROMOSOL located in N'Djaména. Currently, there is a waiting list backlog of about sixty orders for cookers, as they try to keep pace with the enthusiastic response from the community. Once this current group is trained, they will begin in February to train others in the manufacture of the box cookers.
- December 2010: Offsets for Darfur: is an initiative designed by SENSE Foundation to target both environmental issues and support the Solar Cooker Project - an ingenious solar delivery and training program for Sudanese refugees in Chad based camps delivered and facilitated by Solar Cooker International, Kozon and Jewish World Watch. The benefits of "Offsets for Darfur" are twofold with both environmental and humanitarian aid aspects including the mitigation of: • carbon output in Chad refugee camps, • health issues related to firewood cooking. • women's safety issues related to sourcing firewood outside of camp boundaries • and unemployment in refugee camps - the project offers training and employment opportunities within the camps.
- December 2010: Solar power helps tackle deforestation. According to Climate Action Network (CAN), a worldwide network of roughly 500 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change, the Chad government’s decision last year to ban the use of firewood for cooking was a brave attempt to reduce deforestation, but it has caused significant hardship among those who depended wood for cooking. It has been strictly enforced, and families have been forced to burn everything from furniture to plant roots to cook. The KoZon Foundation, the Chad Ministry of Women Affairs and other groups have distributed more than 2,000 solar stoves to women in areas of greatest need, primarily rural. As usual, effective training and follow-up have been important in introducing the solar cookers. More Information...
- January 2010: Photos and discussion of evaluation visit to the Iridimi Refugee Camp - Karyn Ellis
- September 2009: The Edmond Burke High School has raised $3000 in bake sales for the Jewish World Watch project in the Darfur refugee camps.
- January 2009: Chad Government's ban on charcoal and fresh cut fire wood in N'djamena creates 'explosive' fuel shortage crisis in city: Here's what's happening in N'djamena this week after the charcoal ban went into effect: "'As we speak women and children are on the outskirts of N'djamena scavenging for dead branches, cow dung or theoccasional scrap of charcoal,' Merlin Totinon Ngutan, head of the UN Human Settlements Programme (HABITAT) in Chad, told IRIN from the capital. 'People cannot cook. Women giving birth cannot even find a bit of charcoal to heat water for washing,' Mrs. Narmadji, with the Association of Women for Development in Chad, told IRIN." (Source: Banging pots and pans to end charcoal ban - allAfrica.com)
- November 2007: Cooking in Darfur: Solar stoves cleaner, safer for refugees - Monterey Herald
- March 2007: Darfur refugees keep on cookin' - Solar Cooker Review
- February 2007: Jewish World Watch is now coordinating donations for people wishing to donate to provide solar cookers to the Darfur refugees in Chad.
- February 2007: Darfur heroes honored - The Long Beach Press Telegram
- January 2007: $8 stove life-saving gift to Darfur women
- August 2006: Solar Cookers International (SCI) is partnering with The KoZon Foundation, a Dutch charitable group, to assist Darfur refugees living in Chad. In 2004, KoZon volunteer Derk Rijks trained fifteen women in the capital, N'Djamena. He returned in early 2005, after getting approval from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to start a solar cooker demonstration project at Iridimi refugee camp, one of the camps hosting Darfur refugees. Marie-Rose Néloum, one of the previously trained women, took the plight of the refugees to heart and joined Rijks to train refugee women to use solar CooKits and teach others, starting in early 2005. Women responded very enthusiastically and those who learned to solar cook fulfilled their promise to teach others. CooKits were soon assembled on-site by refugee women, who earn an income through this activity. A production workshop was completed in early 2006. The workshop is located in a neutral zone of the camp, close to the offices of the camp administrator, CARE. Refugee women from each of the camp's ten zones take turns training new groups of five to six people. The refugee women at Iridimi camp, as well as head trainer Néloum and two other staff, have persevered in promoting solar cooking even as the security situation has grown increasingly unstable since April 2006. As of July 2006 Iridimi camp had 32 certified solar cooking trainers, 21 CooKit assemblers, 566 trained families, and 1200 CooKits distributed, two to four per tent. Fifty-four women were interviewed in July 2006. Thirty-nine of them solar cook every day; twelve solar cook five to six days a week; and three solar cook two to four days a week. To minimize their reliance on firewood, many families would like to maximize use of all their CooKits. However, about a quarter of the families have sold one or more of their cooking pots in exchange for precious food. SCI and The KoZon Foundation are working together to provide supplies to make CooKits, training, monitoring and accountability to brighten the lives of Darfur refugees at Iridimi camp in Chad. Groups and organizations such as the Darfur Assistance Project and Jewish World Watch, both based in southern California (USA), and many individuals have donated to SCI in support of this project. Additional logistical and communications support from UNHCR and CARE International is invaluable in continuing project operations. Barring significant disruptions, each Iridimi camp household will have two or more CooKits by early 2007.
Climate, Culture, and Special Considerations
- Chad is generally sunny. Local sources of firewood are depleted. It is a good region for solar cooking. (Source: Juan Urrutia Sanz, 2010-Feb-15)
- Discussion of northern Africa's suitability for solar cooking
- Solar cooker dissemination and cultural variables
- View an interactive map of Chad
Map showing location of refugee camps
Articles in the media
- February 2014: Surviving Genocide in Sudan and Congo - Tikkun Daily
- December 2012: Forward With Intention: Solar Cooker Project - Huffington Post
- March 2009: How are solar cookers saving lives in Chad and Darfur? - HowStuffWorks
- February 2009: Simple Tool That Saves Women's Lives - Parade Magazine
- February 2009: Chad: After firewood ban, N'Djamena walk over burning coals
- February 2009: How are solar cookers saving lives in Chad and Darfur? - HowStuffWorks
- July 2007: Simple sun-cooker takes off as a way to help Darfuris (includes video) - The Christian Science Monitor
- March 2007: Hands-on help: Columbia Jewish Congregation gives solar cookers to Darfur refugee women - Washington Jewish Week
- March 2007: Darfur refugees keep on cookin' - Solar Cooker Review
- February 2007: Darfur heroes honored - Long Beach Press Telegram
- January 2007: $8 stove life-saving gift to Darfur women
Audio and video
|September 2007: Solar ovens for Chad|
|July 2007: This is a solar cooker workshop in Nyala, Darfur. As the women look for firewood around the displacement camps they face the danger of rape and abduction. Solar cooking offers an alternative to using firewood for cooking.|
- July 2007: Narrated slideshow showing solar cooker construction and use at Iridimi refugee camp - The Christian Science Monitor