The Bidibidi Refugee Settlement is located in northern Uganda and is home to more than 1.2 million refugees from South Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This major influx of refugees is putting pressure on natural resources in the local area. The availability of firewood is a particular problem, since this is the primary fuel for cooking together with charcoal.
In a new project, Caritas Denmark will sell solar cookers in Bidibidi to combat the widespread deforestation that is occurring in this part of Uganda. The ECOCA cookers have been developed by PESITHO, a Danish start-up.
Caretias Denmark will give 175 families in Bidibidi the opportunity to buy an ECOCA cooker on credit at a reduced price that will make it financially beneficial to switch from wood and charcoal to a solar-powered alternative. According to Caritas Denmark, families will save money in the short and long term by investing in the cookers rather than continuing to use the limited natural resources for daily cooking.
In addition to local jobs related to selling and maintaining the ECOCAs, the project aims to enable families to develop business models using their ECOCA, which can be used for other things than cooking.
“Electricity is a resource people can produce and sell. The trials we have carried out in Bidibidi show that users have business opportunities by making their ECOCA available for charging mobile phones or other electrical devices. Very few people have access to electricity, so families can either make money by simply offering a power source or building a larger business such as a hairdressing salon based on their ECOCA,” says Maj Forum, Programme Coordinator for Innovation, Caritas Denmark.
The Novo Nordisk Foundation’s grant for the project is part of the Foundation’s strategy for humanitarian and development aid.
Photo: Caritas Danmark.