Globally, more than three billion people depend on solid fuels to cook their meals and about 2.6 million people, mainly women and children, die annually from exposure to indoor air pollution (WHO). In sub-Saharan Africa, almost all households meet their domestic energy needs with wood fuels, animal dung and agricultural residues. Household cooking needs constitute the lion’s share of total energy use. As demand for wood fuels increases, so does deforestation, which has become extreme in some regions. These environmental and socio-economic challenges around household cooking are what drive Project Gaia’s dedication to the fight against unhealthy and unsustainable cooking practices.

Project Gaia addresses these challenges by championing more sustainable local cooking solutions, including alcohol fuels and alcohol-powered clean burning stoves.

Project Gaia’s flagship program in Ethiopia, run by its affiliate, Gaia Association (Gaia), an Ethiopian registered charity, has achieved notable results. Established in 2005, Gaia became an Implementing Partner to the UNHCR in 2006. It works in close partnership with Ethiopia’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA).  Together, they have built over 500,000 liters of fuel storage and distributed over 10,000 alcohol stoves in six refugee camps. Gaia procures ethanol fuel from two state-owned sugar factories that manufacture the fuel from molasses, a byproduct, and often a waste, of sugar. In addition to its ethanol cooking program, Gaia Association provides a variety of energy solutions in 13 refugee camps. Some of its more recent activities include:

At Jijiga Refugee Camps (Kebribeyah, Awbare and Shedder)

  • In 2017, 470,646 liters of ethanol fuel were transported and distributed (an average of 3,896 beneficiary households per month).
  • 1,490 liters of ethanol fuel were provided for three primary school student feeding programs and three health center inpatient feeding programs.
  • Solar street lights were installed at Kebribeyah refugee camp.

At Assosa refugee camps (Sherkole, Tsore, Bambasi and Gure-shembola)

  • 21,216 liters of ethanol were transported to the camps and distributed to 300 beneficiary refugee households.
  • 7,469 locally fabricated briquettes were distributed to 224 households at Tsore and Sherkole refugee camps.

At Melkadida/Dollo Ado refugee camps (Bokolmayo, Buramino, Helaweyin, Melkadida and Kobe)

  • 50 technicians from both the host and refugee communities were trained on solar light installation and maintenance as well as on pertinent entrepreneurship and marketing skills.
  • This enabled the installation of 312 solar street lights and the repair of 154 solar street lights.

Partnering with the Global Alliance has played a pivotal role in achieving these successes. The Alliance actively and consistently creates opportunities to share knowledge and expertise across organizations, fosters capacity building within organizations and supports a range of credible solutions to household energy needs. In 2018, Gaia is looking forward to working with the Alliance on a Humanitarian Clean Cooking Fund (HCCF) grant that will expand ethanol and char briquettes in the Assosa camps using a quasi-commercial approach that will empower refugee communities and build a commercial future for the program. About 53,000 beneficiaries will gain from this opportunity and rigorous, scientific testing, monitoring and evaluation will be conducted to measure results.

For more information about Project Gaia and their work globally, please visit their website