WFP Launches Safe Stoves Initiative to Protect Women And Save Fuel

Published on 16 December 2009

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launch the SAFE stoves initiative at the COP15 summit in Copenhagen.

Copyright: WFP/Kati Puhakka

COPENHAGEN – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today launched a pilot project to provide fuel-efficient stoves to women in Sudan and Uganda, to reduce the risk of violence they run while gathering firewood and at the same time protect the environment.

The Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy in Humanitarian Settings (SAFE) stoves initiative will be rolled out in 2010 to reach up to 6 million refugees, internally displaced people, and returnees located in 36 nations. Read story

“Women and girls should not have to risk their lives and dignity – and precious trees should not be lost – in the simple act of trying to cook food for their families. The SAFE stoves launch will help protect them and the environment with practical and urgently needed solutions,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.

Refugees and women living in drought conditions are forced to walk further and further into the bush to collect firewood. They chop down trees and uproot grasses, harming the fragile eco-system. They venture out into unsafe areas and are left vulnerable to rape and other attacks. WFP researchers found that some women spend a full day’s wages on firewood alone. Others sell off food rations to purchase fuel.

WFP’s SAFE project will scale up distribution of fuel-efficient and “improved mud” stoves to assist almost 100 000 women in North Darfur. These stoves consume less firewood and lower health risks associated with smoke.

In Uganda, WFP will focus on refugees and pastoralists in the drought-hit Karamoja region. It will provide more than 35,000 households and 50 schools with fuel-efficient stoves, as well as helping women to find other sources of income.

Project partners include the Women’s Refugee Commission, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Environment programme (UNEP).