Solar kitchen launch with Don Bosco in Kakuma, Kenya

Posted 9 November 2022 by Samuel Rodrigues.

This September Solar Fire started another project with Don Bosco, this time in Kakuma.

Kakuma is a small town in the Turkana region, north west of Kenya set in a beautiful yet austere landscape. The region is unfortunately known these days for the climatic stress it is under. It’s the stage for simultaneously aggressive droughts and destructive flash floods that disrupt both the ecosystem and human socio-economic activities. The people of Turkana know all too well the impacts of climate change.

The town itself has currently around 60 000 inhabitants but the total population is much higher if the Kakuma Refugee Camp is taken into account. Established in 1992 this camp is currently the largest in the world hosting about 200 000 refugees and asylum seekers who escaped conflicts in Sudan (58% of the population), Somalia (16%), Democratic Republic of Congo (8%), Burundi (7%), Ethiopia (5%) and other surrounding countries.

The camp is run by UNHCR Kenya and receives support in key social needs like health, education, housing, child protection etc, from different civil society and non governmental institutions.
Don Bosco provides the camp population with several education centers where about 800 students per year are given vocational training in crafts like masonry, electricity, metal working, tailoring, etc.

There are many challenges to these institutions as well as to the camp and local populations. One of them, common in these contexts, is energy supply. The electrical grid is almost non-existent and, mostly because of its remoteness, access to gas or other fuels is difficult and expensive. So most of the cooking and food transformation is done using firewood. In such an arid context in which deforestation promotes an alarming desertification, it is obvious to everyone that this solution is not sustainable and that it is bound to get more and more expensive.


Pile of firewood at Don Bosco used to cook for around 800 students a day.

So the stage is set for this Don Bosco - Solar Fire collaboration. Alternatives like concentrated solar heat (in which Solar Fire specializes) can therefore have an important and positive impact in the preservation of the environment and in the improvement of living conditions for everyone.

There are two main goals for this project:
1- Setting up a solar bakery unit that can serve as training grounds, as employment opportunity for some students and as a source of income to Don Bosco Kakuma.
2 - Installing several solar stove tops to sustainably and economically cook (for the moment a significant part of) the daily meals served to the students.

This September Solar Fire organized a first field mission to Kakuma to assess the local needs and capabilities.

We selected and prepared a site - A terrace on the side of a hill at Don Bosco’s compound was created and prepared to receive five Lytefire machines.

We prepared a working space - An empty room near to the site was turned into a temporary bakery, as we wait for a permanent Solar Kitchen and Bakery to be created.

We installed a first solar oven - we organized an introductory training session with the group of staff and students that will be running the bakery and installed and started production with a first Lytefire solar oven.

The mission was a success! The bakery team has started a steady production (more news on them soon) and Solar Fire is producing the five more Lytefire 5 that we will install soon.

We’ll be back in Kakuma in no time!

 

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