Wednesday, September 28, 2011

September 28, 2011 - Dadaab

Two weeks ago I went to the Dadaab Refugee Camp on the border of Somalia. The Dadaab Refugee camp is the largest in the world, with more than 450,000 refugees. From May to July this year we experienced the most extreme influx of refugees to date: up to about 1,400 new arrivals per day. A few years ago I remember colleagues raising their eyebrows when we reached 200 per day.

During my recent trip I spent three days there and although it is still an emergency situation of course, everything seems calmer now, and things are under control with about 400 refugees per day and the numbers seem to be coming down.

I think this was my fourth time to Dadaab Camp since it is not a part of my usual responsibilities. But I am responsible for climate change activities in WFP Kenya and over the years have specialized in energy-saving stoves, which I know a lot about now.

A few months ago we received some seed funding (less than USD 100,000) and I decided to run a larger pilot for a new type of energy-saving stove in the camp. The stoves use firewood but reduce the consumption by around 50% and provide for more complete combustion, which means a cleaner air for the cook. For the last 20 years a mud stove production in the refugee camps has provided good quality stoves to the refugees. The stove technology has improved immensely over the last 10 years and it is time to try to introduce a new type of stove; not everyone agrees with me on this, but I have fought for it and due to the famine emergency and the lack of stoves in the camp, there is now willingness to accept new stoves.

We plan to purchase and distribute about 6,000 stoves over the next few months. Acceptance by the Somali ladies is key; they might choose to sell the stoves or not use them because they are something completely new to them. Luckily I have found a great NGO to extensively train all of the beneficiaries on how to use the stoves and understand their benefits. If we succeed we will have taken a big leap in the right direction.

We have more funding if the pilot proves itself successful so wish me luck.


1 comment:

Sarah said...

Hi, Lisa!!! It is awesome to be here chatting here with you in blogland! I'm so sorry I never wrote you back that one time on facebook, I'm terrible like that, I feel so bad:( Can't believe you are over in Africa! (I have always wanted to travel there and do a safari or something.) Sounds like you are doing such wonderful work there too. Good luck with the stoves! Thank goodness there are people like you and Kristof out there changing the world - I feel like such a slacker! Congratulations on such a beautiful family, Grace and Noah (yay for crawling!) are so cute:)

Thanks for the nap advice with Maura. We are trying something different today to see if it goes any better - I pushed back her morning nap a bit and fed her lunch before putting her to sleep (instead of after), all per mom's suggestions...cross your fingers for me! The last few days she has been napping at the same time in the morning and for the same amount of time, but not going down for her afternoon nap. (I liked having that break!)

Still laughing at all the snack stuff your parents sent you, that is awesome! Those are all the kind of little things you take for granted that I would miss too. Hmmm, do they have Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts over there, lol?!

So great to catch up a bit!! Really impresses with all you've got going on, girl!!! Talk to you soon.