Berkeley-Darfur Stove

Ashok Gadgil explains the motivation behind invention of fuel-efficient, safer cookstoves for Darfuri refugees at the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Conference 2007

The 2003 conflict in Darfur killed at least 300,000 people and forced more than two million people from their homes, ultimately into large internally displaced persons camps spread through the region. Although families in IDP camps receive food aid, they must still gather firewood for fuel.

Due to the size of the IDP camps (some have more than 100,000 residents) and the desert-like terrain, wood is scarce. Add to that the issue of deforestation, displaced women must walk up to seven hours to find a single tree, risking assault every step of the way. To avoid danger, some Darfuri women purchase wood from vendors, by selling the very food they need to feed their families. While the tangle of political and ethnic tensions underlying the Darfur conflict seemed beyond resolution, the solution to one problem was clear: women in Darfur needed a better stove.

Ashok Gadgil of the Energy Technologies Area at Berkeley Lab visited Darfur in 2005. His team designed the Berkeley-Darfur Stove, tailored to Darfur’s climate and cooking. The stove requires less than half the fuel of traditional cooking methods, decreasing women’s exposure to violence while collecting firewood and their need to trade food rations for fuel.

To this day, researchers on the Stoves team are continually refining and improving the original Berkeley-Darfur stove.

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