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Darfur Mother Designs Award-Winning Stove

Halima, 28, won a contest organised by WFP among women trained to make their own clean-burning cook stoves to see who could design the most efficient model. Copyright: WFP/Pia Skjelstad

Halima, a 28-year-old mother from Northern Darfur, has won first prize in a contest among local women trained by WFP to make their own clean-burning cook stoves. She won by designing a stove that consumes less wood and produces less smoke than all of the others. View video

NORTH DARFUR—Though Halima, 28, has no formal education, the stove she now uses to prepare her lunch for her 12-year-old daughter suggests that she has a solid grasp of the laws of thermodynamics. Donate for Darfur

She points to the combustion chamber and the air intake, and shows how the pot sits over the cooking surface to get maximum use out of the heat.

“It produces less smoke and saves me time,” she says proudly. “Instead of spending hours and hours gathering wood, I can look after my family and work in my vegetable garden.”

The stove, which won Halima a US $300.00 cash prize, will burn anything from wood to cow dung to household waste. She learned to make it during a training course organised by WFP as part of its Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy (SAFE) initiative in Northern Darfur. Halima says that she named the model Sabrin after a dear friend who lives in Khartoum.

Innovative design

On average, these stoves consume around two-thirds less wood than the traditional way of cooking—over an open fire—which means that women like Halima can spend less time foraging for firewood.

In the arid plains of northern Darfur, gathering firewood can take hours and exposes women to the threat of rape and violence by the many armed groups which roam the area. It also despoils the land of precious vegetation, leaving it vulnerable to drought and floods.

Better and safer

Stoves like Halima’s also produce much less smoke, the cause of deadly indoor air pollution, which kills over 1.5 million people every year.

But Halima says that one of the nicest things about her stove is that it’s safe. Unlike an open fire, she can walk away from the stove while her food is cooking and clean up around the house or perform other chores.

As efficient as her new stove is, Halima added that she’s already begun thinking about ways it could be improved even more.