Nearly 2 million Sudanese, driven from their homes by violence, now live in densely populated clusters of camps spread throughout Sudan’s western Darfur region. One of their greatest needs is firewood to cook food, sell for income, boil water, and heat their homes. But most of Darfur is arid, and aggressive harvesting of wood has desolated much of the environment nearby.
In addition, residents who leave the relative safety of the camps to gather wood — often women and girls — must face the real risk of violent attack. In North Darfur, more than 90 percent of families are believed to have at least one female family member who spends at least eight hours a day, five days a week, collecting firewood. In response, USAID began encouraging organized “firewood patrols” accompanied by escorts, and is working with the African Union and local communities to enhance protection.
In addition, USAID is promoting production and use of fuel-efficient stoves in Darfur’s camps to reduce the need for firewood and the risk involved in gathering it. Fuel-efficient stoves can cook the same amount of food in half the time, consuming less than half the fuel. Some stoves only need 20 percent as much fuel as traditional stoves. The stoves also produce significantly less smoke and ash, reducing health threats to families.
Fuel-efficient stoves are manufactured in camps for less than $3 using local materials, including clay, sorghum stems, dung, aluminum, and water. USAID and its partners are teaching women in Darfur how to build and use fuel-efficient stoves and pass their skills along to other women in the camps. This decreases the amount of wood households require, as well as the amount of time women must spend in dangerous places collecting it.
Last updated: September 23, 2013