Five years ago, the US Government sent a scientist from Berkeley to Darfur to try to find a solution to a grave problem facing families in displacement camps. Here is the amazing story of Ashok Gadgil and the Darfur-Berkeley stove. While the KQED story is a bit dated (they have succeeded in distributing several thousand stoves) it explains the whole story so well.
The women have to walk for up to several hours a day, three-five times a week, just to collect enough firewood for cooking. During these treks they were often subjected to sexual assault and abuse.
Ashok Gadgil and his colleagues collaborated with a group of women to design the Berkeley-Darfur Stove. It is a simple fuel-efficient stove that enables the women to make considerably less dangerous journeys. Instead of going out 4-5 times a week, they were now going to just once a week. It also helps prevent exhaustion and allows them to spend more time with their families.
In addition, the stove saves money and food rations that are often sacrificed to buy fuel because the stove uses half as much firewood as traditional cooking methods. Moreover it limits the harmful emissions that contribute to global warming, as well as toxic pollutants that cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia.
Using the stove will save an estimated $150 per year in fuel costs, with the lifespan of the stove being approximately five years.
Each stove is made from sheet metal pieces that are stamped out in India. These flat-kits are shipped to Sudan where they are assembled by the Sustainable Action Group, a Sudanese non-governmental organization affiliated with Oxfam America.
The total cost to fabricate, ship and assemble each stove is $20.
For more details and to learn how to help, please visit their website
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com