Solar Cookers International’s first and largest refugee project began in January 1995 in Kakuma refugee camp located in Kenya. The camp provided a safe haven for 28,000 refugees, primarily Sudanese and Somali. The camp also housed refugees from Ethiopia, Congo, Burundi, Eritrea, Rwanda and Uganda. Kakuma had considerable refugee turnover, but by 2004, when Solar Cookers International (SCI) concluded the project, the camp had tripled in size to nearly 90,000 refugees. Though rapid growth posed problems for assisting all those who wanted to solar cook, SCI ultimately served over 15,000 families.
News and recent developments
- September 2012: The Swedish Church and the aid agency Lutheran World Federation (LWF) are launching Solvatten in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. The goal of the project is to reduce environmental degradation by enabling people to use alternative sources of energy in the camp and in the host community that surrounds it. Supply of fire wood has been a problem in Kakuma region since the camp was set up in 1992 but it has escalated in the past two years, despite that the refugees are not allowed to harvest firewood directly from the bushes. This is attributed to the continuous massive influx of people into the camp leading to the environmental degradation through the harvesting of sticks from the available vegetation for firewood. Firewood has become very expensive and the UNHCR struggles to purchase and supply fuel to the growing population of refugees in the camp.
Report from Kakuma Refugee Camp
By Antony Malong
23 February 2005
Kakuma refugee Camp is situated in the North-West of Kenya. It is a very dry area and hot troughout with temperatures of 37 ° - 40 °C (99 ° - 104 °F). The area has got no trees no water either.
Kakuma was formed in 1972 when the sudanese refugees first arrived in Kakuma. Currently, there is a population of 88.000 refugees from various countries, namely: Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Rwanda, Bhurundi and the Demoocratic Republic of the Congo. The Sudanese population comprises 70% of the total population and form the majority population
- We had extended solar cooker technology to schools, especially primary school, through demonstrations, poems, songs and drama.
- We had also trained refugees on how to use Water Pasteurisation Indicators (WAPIs). This was the time when the Typhoid diaaster struck camp and there was also acute shortage of water as some of the refugees went to collect stagnant water in the river Tarach that surround Kakuma Refugee Camp.
- We had also trained the community leaders on the acceptamce of the solar cooking of which Target Groups were selected of which 30 Target Group members per each zone in the camp were identified.
- Refresher trainings were conducted to the users to make sure that they don’t forget on how bto solar cook different types of recipes.
- In 1999-2002 in an effort to make Kakuma a better place to live, we had found out that it was difficult to sell CooKits due to the destitute and vulnerable refugees in Kakuma who could not afford to buy a CooKit at a price of KSh 50,- So we had to mobilize the community to plant 10 trees for a CooKit. the head of a family had to plant 10 trees per Cookit plus plastic bag which was successful as the camp has got some trees now there. These were not there at the refugees’ arrival in Kakuma.
- SOCOCO (Solar Cookers Cooperative) was formed in 2004 after the phase-out of the Kakuma Solar CooKers project in 2004. After the phase-out of bthe Kakuma Solar Cookers project in 2003. The members of the SOCOCO were drawn from the former staff of SCI-Kakuma.
- SOCOCO now acts as a centre of training for Solar Cooking. It is a hotel where different types of food are solar cooked). The customers for this centre come from near by the area (mainly the host community plus the refugees themselves).
- More than 20.000 Cookits were distributed to 2000 families, since 1995-2000. These families were mainly refugees.
- Types of solar cookers that we have now in the SOCOCO centre for solar cooking different types of food: 2 solar boxes, 2 parabolic cookers, 4 fireless cookers and 5 CooKits.
- Cultural attitudes had first overwhelmed us in rendering our services to the various communities in the camp. But we didn't give up. It was b lieved in some cultures that women only cook while men do not. We had put more effort to involve men in solar cooking and we did so successfully.
- Recommendation: As Sudanese peace pact had been signed in Nairobi this year many Sudanese refugees are now very optimistic about the peace and some would like to return to Sudan as they find that it is a real peace. We therefore propose that solar cooking technology be extended to South Sudan in the years to come.