The Solar Cooker Project uses the most basic technology to give refugees a way to independently cook food without having to gather firewood, a dangerous task of everyday life. The Iridimi Refugee Camp in Chad is equipped with 14,000 solar cookers.
On July 23, 2011, Ron Garan tweeted a photo of fires over Southern and Central Africa, taken from Space.
Witnessing photographic evidence of such large scale environmental damage was both shocking and perplexing. What was going on?
To find out more, I visited the NASA website and checked out a report posted by Goddard Space Center's Rob Gutro and Dr. James Acker. The report included a map titled "Aura Satellite Measures Pollution "Butterfly" from Fires in Central Africa.
Turns out, "Each year, people in the region burn croplands to clear fields after harvests. Burning is also used to create new growth in pastures and move grazing animals to new locations."
The post went on to explain the hazardous affects of "Low-level ozone (smog)' on 'the health of both plants and animals' and provided a detailed technical run explaining how this kind of environmental shift impacts 'respiratory problems in humans."
Additional Googling lead me to a report posted on the National Institute of Health website, stating: "Respiratory illness is the major cause of mortality and morbidity in African children."
Back in 2008, I discovered the Solar Cooker Project through my volunteer work with Jewish World Watch. It is a refreshingly simple way of supporting refugees from Darfur while reducing circumstances that can cause accidental fires to start.
My hope is that shining light on this successful alternative energy project, will inspire others in the region to explore similar alternatives.