Last updated: 26 September 2016
According to a GIZ report:
“Another pilot project was launched in 2003 at a refugee camp in Osire in Namibia. The camp was much smaller than the one in Kakuma, with about 12,500 refugees, most of whom came from Angola. Wood was the principal energy source, and for the most part was gathered from the vicinity of the camp. In addition, the refugees received paraffin free of charge, not only for lighting but also for cooking purposes. The paraffin distribution was to prove extremely counterproductive with regard to the use of solar cookers.
“All in all 111 parabolic cookers of the SK9, SK10 and SK14 type were assembled by trained refugees. Interest in the new technology was great: after just three cookery demonstrations over 460 families had already had their names put down on waiting lists. So as not to raise expectations too highly and because of the limited number of solar cookers available, the demonstrations were then discontinued and the cookers were given out to selected families, who in return worked in communal gardens or other communal facilities.”
“The unusual situation in refugee camps makes it easily possible to check the use of solar cookers. Surveys showed that all of the typical meals that had previously been cooked using firewood could also be prepared on the new equipment. Nevertheless, the traditional stoves continued to be used, while the solar cookers served as an additional option. Estimates in Kakuma indicated, however, that roughly 35% of energy consumption could be saved if the cookers were used as much as possible.
“The results of a comprehensive evaluation in Osire were initially encouraging: the families stated that they used the cookers on five or six sunny days each week. They said they liked the taste of the food prepared on a solar cooker, which did not have the ‘flavor’ of paraffin fumes; meat cooked ‘à la solar cooker’ was even considered a delicacy among the refugees. The users also praised the fact that solar cookers worked without generating smoke.
“Some families, moreover, proved themselves to be highly inventive. They used their solar cooker for making soap and thus generated income for themselves; others used them not only for cooking but also for heating their clothes irons, in order to save charcoal. Yet others used the parabolic cookers as reflectors for lighting in the evening, by positioning a candle at the place where the pot usually goes. Some poorer families sold the paraffin ration that they received from the UNHCR for cooking to wealthier families, while they themselves used their solar cooker. And not least, the work of assembling cookers by trained refugees was an activity that they in their own words rated highly as a meaningful change from the otherwise uneventful daily life in the camp.
“A closer investigation of the impacts on fuel consumption revealed, however, that only fewer than ten of 111 surveyed families used their solar cookers regularly, thereby achieving a saving of 40%. The great majority cooked only occasionally by solar means, and some families gave up using the cookers in the course of the study or even right at the outset, since they had access to free paraffin. This applied in particular to the smaller models of cooker, while the more powerful SK14 came off better. Experience was similar in Kenya, where only about 10% of the families used their solar cookers regularly. When an American aid organization (USAID) donated several million dollars in order to buy firewood for the refugees in Dadaab, this brought solar cooking activities to an abrupt end.”