We initiated the Solar Cooker Project in 2006 as a way of protecting Darfuri women and girls ̶ survivors of the Darfur genocide living as refugees in Eastern Chad ̶ by reducing their dangerous trips outside of the camps in search of firewood for cooking. We served hundreds of thousands of refugees in five camps – helping keep them safe and secure and empowering them as they build new lives Chad.
Then the situation on the ground changed: a tragic food crisis impacted our ability to increase women’s safety through the Solar Cooker Project.
Food Crisis in the Darfuri Refugee Camps
The changing conditions in Chad presented us with new challenges: food insecurity became the primary and most immediately pressing safety and security risk to the refugees. The World Food Program and United Nations Refugee Agency cut food rations due to increased demand for WFP and UNHCR assistance around the globe. Refugees in Chad are receiving less than 850 calories per person/per day, and some refugees report receiving closer to 250-500 calories per person/per day. In response to this desperate situation, we had to overhaul how we serve these refugees.
New Strategies for New Situations
Any organization working in regions affected by conflict, poor governance, and poverty – such as Eastern Chad where the Darfuris reside – must be nimble, and make changes to projects as dictated by the current situation on the ground. As such, JWW conducted several evaluations of the SCP over the years. We reviewed the evaluations thoughtfully and continually adjusted the Solar Cooker Project as needed. Previous evaluations all pointed to one overall conclusion: the project was working.
Under the new conditions of severe food insecurity, the basic model of preventing trips outside the camp became no longer feasible. Many men, women and children chose to leave the camps in order to do whatever they must to get more food for their families. After careful consideration, we are suspended the work of the Solar Cooker Project, and turned our attention to increasing food rations and supporting programs that allow the Darfuri refugees to become more self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency will protect the Darfuri refugee community from the inconstancy of over-stressed international aid funding.
The Legacy of the Solar Cooker Project
Until significant political progress is made in Sudan, and it is safe for the Darfuris to return home, their dire situation in Chad must be improved. We at JWW are determined to find initiatives which provide sustainable solutions to support the refugees, and will be able to do so with your continued support. In keeping with the very purpose of the Solar Cooker Project, we will support and lead efforts to keep women and girls safe from sexual violence. The Solar Cooker Project was in essence a human security project, and we will continue to keep that as a central focus in all our work to empower and support the Darfuri people.
What You Can Do
Now is the time to take action on behalf of the Darfuri refugees and make a generous gift that will enable JWW to be at forefront of developing the strategies that will help ensure that they survive the current crisis. Thank you in advance for your support!