Sustainable, electric cooking pilot for households and institutions

Women selling vegetables at a market

Given the adverse effects of cooking with firewood on the environment, health and safety of communities, electric cooking (e-cooking) is increasingly being explored as an alternative cooking method.

In response to this challenge, SNV and Gamos East Africa, with support from the Energising Development (EnDev), started a pilot to test large electric pressure cookers at social institutions in Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement.

SNV and Gamos East Africa have recently launched the ‘Institutional e-cooking pilot in Kakuma’ project, co-implemented and funded by EnDev through the MBEA II project and the MECS programme. The project aims to test the use of large Electric Pressure Cookers (EPCs) with 3-4 social institutions in the Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement connected to a solar mini-grid system or have their own solar system.

The first pilot started at Morning Star Primary School with support from Finn Church Aid and included testing a 40L and 21L electric pressure cooker to cook student and teacher meals. The cooks and teachers are trained on safe EPC use, and data is collected on the schools’ cooking practices before and during EPC uptake. Over the next few months, testing will be conducted at other institutions to compile a rich set of data to be analysed and presented in a research report.

Using an e-cooker at Morning Star Primary School

Using an e-cooker at Morning Star Primary School

Collecting firewood

Collecting firewood

Approximately 50 social institutions, including schools, clinics, reception centres and safe havens, provide services to refugee and host communities members in Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei integrated settlement (KIS) in North-Western Kenya. All institutions cook with firewood provided by UNHCR, accumulating to 100 metric tonnes per month. Many cooks use institutional firewood stoves with insufficient capacity or need to be fixed, leading to inefficient firewood use (on open fires) and negative impacts on health due to smoke emissions.

UNHCR is electrifying all social institutions in Kakuma with a standalone solar system with battery storage. In addition, several institutions in Kalobeyei are connected to the solar mini-grid systems operated by Renewvia Energy. These electrification initiatives presented the opportunity for SNV and Gamos to test electric cooking with social institutions in the Kakuma refugee camp to gain insights into the feasibility of cooking with electricity for institutions in a displacement setting.

The pilot results are expected to be published in a research report by mid-2023.

For more information, contact Karlijn Groen at kgroen@snv.org.