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.