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Aisha refugee camp, Ethiopia

In March 1997 Solar Cookers International (SCI) was asked by the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to initiate a solar cooking project in Aisha refugee camp. In Aisha, refugees were allowed to gather firewood for cooking from surrounding areas. However, the area was quite barren, requiring women and girls to walk as far as 18 miles to find suitable firewood.

Despite its remote location, and limited options for local manufacture of CooKits, nearly all of the camp’s 2000 Somali families learned to solar cook by 1999. A highly successful participatory training approach, utilizing refugee women as trainers, allowed for the widespread adoption of solar cookers within the camp, and illustrated that refugees with limited literacy skills can successfully teach solar cooking, lead public demonstrations, and conduct home visits.

In 2001, an independent evaluation found that SCI succeeded in its efforts to disseminate solar cooking throughout the camp and reduce consumption of traditional wood and charcoal cooking fuels. Evaluation results showed significant changes in traditional energy use and a consequent reduction of local deforestation. Refugees saved time, money and effort. Camp-wide, consumption of firewood decreased by about 32 percent over the course of the project. With solar cooking, refugees spent four to six fewer days each month gathering firewood, freeing up time for children to attend school and women to engage in other community and household activities.

In May 2003, several months prior to the camp’s scheduled closing, SCI ended its Aisha presence. At that time, an additional supply of 1,000 high-quality CooKits from Kenya was entrusted to camp authorities to be distributed as needed.

refugee solar cooking


Links to articles about these efforts:


Related topics

»   International program development
»   Education resources
»   Advocacy

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