With this improved cook stove, households will not only save up on time that would otherwise be spent on collecting wood or long hours of cooking, but will significantly reduce the safety risks associated with firewood collection.
KAKUMA, Kenya – Safe and reliable access to energy, for cooking is a basic need for everyone and necessary for economic development. However, for refugees, cooking a meal, something that many people take for granted, is a daily struggle.
Without this access to energy, refugees, mostly women and children, may be exposed to multiple health and safety risks and their time available for livelihood, education, social and other activities is significantly reduced.
At the household level, the several hours spent searching for cooking fuel exposes women and children to safety risks, such as Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV). Women and children are also exposed to health risks, including respiratory infections from smoke produced by inefficient stoves and fuels such as firewood. Children who collect firewood, or accompany their mothers, cannot attend school.
“The stove has added hours to my days, saves the firewood I use to prepare a meal and has reduced the exposure to respiratory infections.”
According to UNHCR’s Global SAFE Strategy 2014-2018, refugees may also engage in coping strategies such as selling food rations, to be able to afford cooking fuel. Such coping mechanisms can have serious consequences including malnutrition and loss of livelihood opportunities, and is a risk to personal safety and dignity.
In Kakuma Refugee Camp, this situation has however improved. In September 2016, UNHCR Sub-Office Kakuma introduced an improved cook stove known as the Save80 Stove.
The stove consists of an 8-litre stainless steel pot and a heat-retaining device known as the Wonderbox that enables cooking with very small amounts of fuel-wood, hence a significant reduction of emissions to the environment. The stove aims to save up to 80% of the firewood consumption used in the preparation of a single meal.
“I don’t have to constantly fan the fire to keep the pot boiling because of the Wonderbox.”
26 year old South Sudanese, Christine Saima, is one of the many refugees who have benefited from the Save80 Stove. Christine who has lived in Kakuma Refugee Camp since 1993 constantly appreciates the two devices which the family received from UNHCR in September 2016.
“Ever since I received this stove, my life has significantly been improved,” says Christine. “I work as a Stove Promoter in Kakuma so the stove has added hours to my days, saves the firewood I use to prepare a meal and has reduced the exposure to respiratory infections.”
Christine goes ahead to explain that the Save80 stove does indeed save up to 80% of the firewood used during meal preparation, compared to other traditional cooking methods and devices. In a household of fourteen, a single meal would need more preparation time and more than 10Kgs of firewood per day. However, with the Save80, Christine’s family not only uses dramatically less firewood but the food also cooks in a much shorter time.
“It takes me 40 minutes to prepare 2.5Kgs of rice and 2 hours for my beans to cook,” says Christine. “I don’t have to constantly fan the fire to keep the pot boiling because of the Wonderbox.” The Wonderbox is a heat-retaining fireless cooker that cooks the food slowly. “I now have time for my family as well as time to focus on my studies on being a Community Worker.”
Energy supply tends to be the most serious environment-related issue associated with refugee camps. In Kakuma Refugee Camp for instance, where firewood is the main source of fuel, the competition for the dwindling natural resource base can be a trigger for tension between the refugees and host communities. In this situation, environmental degradation is thus inevitable and the impacts can be long lasting and difficult to reverse.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Kakuma, has so far facilitated the production of over 700 Save80 Stoves and has distributed over 500 stoves as at 1 March 2017 to both the refugee and host community.
“During distribution of the stoves, we target large family sizes such as family size 6 going up. Working with an average of family size six, we can approximate the number of people benefiting from the energy saving stove to be over 3,000 individuals,” said Natalie Ndunda UNHCR’s Senior Environment Associate.
With this improved cook stove, households will not only save up on time that would otherwise be spent on collecting wood or long hours of cooking, but will significantly reduce the safety risks associated with firewood collection. This clean energy initiative will enable more families live smarter and save money, while significantly reducing the impact of climate change on the environment.