by Pia Skjelstad
MAJDUB--Khadija is a mother of 14 and the wife of the village leader, or "Sheikh", thus a respected lady in Majdub village in Northern Darfur.
She shows off her cooking area where she has two different stoves. The first one—her “old” stove—consists of three stones on which she used to balance a cooking pot over an open fire.
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The new stove, which she learned to make herself through a WFP training programme, is made out of clay and has all but replaced the one Khadija used before. She explains that it consumes a third of the amount of firewood her old stove burns, which has drastically reduced the amount of time she spends gathering firewood.
Straying from home
“Women and girls can be raped by soldiers if they go even just a few hundred metres outside of the village,” she explains. “If they get pregnant, their babies are haram – forbidden.” Within the village confines, there is almost no firewood left to gather, so she has to buy it.
One of Khadija’s daughters is 15 years old now and she and her husband fear for her safety. But the new stove has put their minds at ease. Now that they consume two-thirds the amount of firewood they burned before, they can afford to buy it if they have to.
Khadija’s new stove is also protecting her and her family’s health. It produces far less smoke, which used to fill the house when she cooked, burning their eyes and lungs.
Set in her ways
Khadija got her stove as part of WFP’s Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy (SAFE) initiative which is bringing stoves like hers to over 131,400 households and 219 schools in both Northern Darfur and Uganda.
Her husband, suggests that they get an LPG stove instead, which runs on a kind of fuel that produces practically no smoke at all. “It will keep my wife beautiful and protect her skin,” he reasons.
But Khadija tells him to shush. She’s cooked with wood all her life, and while she’s happy to burn less of it, isn’t interested in cooking with anything else.