FAO promotes solar and fuel efficient technologies among internally displaced people in northeastern Nigeria

FAO promotes solar and fuel efficient technologies among internally displaced people in northeastern Nigeria

26/11/2018

FAO and the Borno State Ministry of Environment are offering more sustainable cooking and lighting solutions to resource-poor households in the Ngala local government area (LGA). On 22 November 2018, FAO began the distribution of lightweight fuel-efficient stoves and solar lanterns to internally displaced people (IDPs) in Ngala’s International School Camp. In total, about 2 500 families within this camp will receive these items as part of an emergency Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) kit financed by the Government of Norway.

Northeastern Nigerian households face alarming fuel and energy needs. In Borno State, the most affected by conflict in the region, an estimated 95 percent of the population relies on firewood and charcoal for cooking food and lighting homes. As a result, households with limited access to fuel and energy resources are at greater risk of food insecurity and owing to low electrification, face numerous protection risks. As a negative coping mechanism, some households are forced to undercook their meals or sell portions of an already insufficient food supply to purchase wood fuel.

In a statement shared at the launch of the emergency SAFE kits, the Honourable Commissioner of Environment of Borno State, Sunday Madu Gadzama, stressed that wood fuel use mounted an immense pressure on the natural environment, in turn leading to deforestation. “It has been long established that firewood collection burdens natural resources, especially in areas with a large number of IDPs”, said Gadzama. He was represented by the Director of Planning, Research and Statistics at the Ministry, Baba Bukar Zanna.

The cooking stoves allow for a drastic reduction in firewood collection by requiring about 65 percent less wood fuel. The solar lanterns distributed do not require wood fuel or any other resource, making daily life easier for IDPs. Amina Kachalla, an IDP of the International School Camp, received her cooking stove and solar lantern and hurried home to test the items herself. She handed the inflatable solar lantern to her son Yusuf who immediately began blowing it up. Kachalla moved swiftly to the kitchen where she first boiled water for the babies and then put on a pot of beans for the evening meal. “This stove cooks very fast, see how quick this water is boiling?”, said Kachalla. “This is very good for us because our husbands ask us to collect firewood. This way we don’t have to collect much”.

Traditional cooking methods, including on three-stone fires, expose people, particularly women and children, to harmful smoke. According to Nigeria’s Ministry of Health, smoke inhalation is a leading cause of respiratory illnesses, eye conditions and death. The stoves distributed not only require less wood fuel, but produce significantly less smoke. In addition, at 5 kg, they are lightweight and ideal for highly mobile IDPs.

The FAO Representative in Nigeria, represented by his deputy, Nourou Macki Tall, noted the limited mainstreaming of energy issues in humanitarian responses and called for more agencies to employ the SAFE approach. “The low access to fuel and energy has led FAO to establish energy and fuel-related activities in the northeast. FAO’s programme in the region aims to address the challenges related to limited energy and fuel access in three ways. Firstly, by reducing the demand for firewood, followed by increasing the supply of firewood and finally through promoting sustainable livelihoods”, said Macki-Tall. He also stressed that FAO’s programme in remote Ngala, symbolized the Organization’s commitment to support ‘hard to reach’ areas.

To aid in implementation, FAO engaged the Adventist Development and Relief Agency. In addition, in 2017, FAO collaborated with the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development to establish three production centers for fuel-efficient stoves made of clay. Production sites are located in the LGAs of Jere, Maiduguri Metropolitan Council and Konduga of Borno State; 100 artisans were trained on dadin kowa (clay stove) production well as business management. Since June 2018, 5 000 cooking stoves have been locally produced and distributed in Borno thanks to support from the Government of Norway. In 2019, the Governments of Norway, Kuwait and the European Union will support FAO to distribute about 18 000 dadin kowa stoves.