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Jessica Omari, News, The Female Frontline

Can cooking tools save women from rape and sexual violence in Africa’s refugee camps?

By Jessica Omari

Black Africans have been terrorized, driven out of their villages, and decimated by Arab militias, the Janjaweed and the Sudan government since 2003.  It is estimated that up to 400,000 people are dead, while 2.7 million people have been displaced. Women and girls have been raped and beaten at an alarming rate.

Despite fleeing the genocide in the Dafur region of Sudan, female refugees have still found themselves victims in the relative safety of refugee camps.

There are an estimated 285,500 refugees living in Chad, 80% of whom are women and children.

Unsafe

In the refugee camps, women and young girls must perform the dangerous job of collecting firewood for cooking. This requires them to leave the camps and walk for hours, making them vulnerable to attack.

In the refugee camps of Dadaab in Kenya, more than 90 percent of reported sexualised violence has occurred while girls and women were searching for resources like firewood; a cooking fuel necessary to prepare the food humanitarian groups provide.

But are solar cookers enough to protect the women and girls of refugee camps in Chad from suffering rape and other violence?

Copyright Barbara Grover for Jewish World Watch

Copyright Barbara Grover for Jewish World Watch (with permission)

Solar Cooker Project

Now in its sixth year the Solar Cooker Project seeks to reduce the frequency of these crimes by providing an alternative cooking option. The project, started by the LA based Jewish World Watch (JWW), aims to lessen the dependence on firewood by taking advantage of the intense sunlight in Chad.

Copyright Barbara Grover for Jewish World Watch

Solar cookers, assembled from cardboard and aluminum foil, are folded to capture sunlight. Copyright Barbara Grover for Jewish World Watch (with permission).

Rachel Andres, Director of JWW’s Solar Cooker Project told The Female Frontline she is pleased with the progress of the project, which is now present in four of Chad’s 12 refugee camps.

“The Solar Cooker Project has expanded to 4 refugee camps and will be serving over 90,000 people by the end of 2012”.

In the refugee camps, JWW pays women to assemble the cookers and to paint the pots black for better sunlight absorption. Other women are hired to provide training on how to use the cooker.

For more information about the project visit http://www.jewishworldwatch.org/projects/ontheground/sudan/solar-cooker-project

Discussion

One thought on “Can cooking tools save women from rape and sexual violence in Africa’s refugee camps?

  1. Jessi this is something which is not widely known. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

    Posted by Becky M | May 3, 2012, 1:20 pm

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