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Fuel For The Fire

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Issue: 42 Section: Food Geography: Africa Chad, Darfur Topics: migration, Women

January 2, 2007

Fuel For The Fire

Women refugees in eastern Chad are forced to risk robbery and rape in order to gather firewood for cooking

by Jaime Little

Darfuri refugees learn to assemble a stove that uses 80 per cent less fuel than traditional cooking methods.

Photo: Jaime Little

EASTERN CHAD -- There used to be trees here on the desert edge of eastern Chad, where almost a quarter-million Sudanese refugees are currently camping out. They are Darfuris who made it across the border. Now they live in sprawling tent cities 20 times the size of any of the surrounding Chadian villages.

The refugees aren’t really supposed to leave the camps. But early every morning a brightly coloured train of women and girls can be seen slowly winding its way from the cluster of canvas tents. Some have donkeys, some carry babies, all of them have a long walk ahead.

They are searching for firewood. Food, water, sanitation and schooling are all provided in the camps, but no one has taken on the responsibility of providing the refugees with fuel for cooking. And all of the food rations provided to the refugees by the World Food Programme – dried beans, wheat flour and the like – require cooking before they’re even the least bit edible. With an average of seven mouths to feed in each family, some of these women will walk 40 kilometres before they find enough dead branches and fallen twigs to last a few days.

A solar cooker heats up a pot of tea in 15 minutes

Photo: Jaime Little

They are lucky if they make it home with their haul. Far from the camps, often wandering alone in the brush, these women and girls become targets for angry locals who want to protect the meager wood supply for themselves. The women are threatened, beaten, robbed and raped. It is one of the gravest security threats for refugees in this region.

Here, collecting wood is considered women’s work because it is part of the process of preparing the food. Men – even the husbands and fathers of women raped during firewood collection – insist that they cannot search for the wood themselves, or even accompany the women, because it would be shameful and embarrassing. The women have a different explanation: they say if the men encountered local villagers in the bush, someone would certainly get killed. So the women and girls continue to leave the camps, and to face the risks.

Within the camps, aid agencies and women’s refugee committees are trying to find ways to reduce wood consumption. It is an effort not only to reduce the threat of violence, but also to conserve a scarce resource and to ease tensions between refugees and the local population. The aid organizations have started to distribute fuel-efficient stoves that burn much less wood than the traditional three-stone open fire used for generations in this part of the world. But a lot of the refugee women are suspicious of these new technologies. They aren’t sure how to use them, and they don’t trust that the food will end up tasting very good.

One such alternative is the solar cooker. It looks like an open cardboard box, lined on the inside with tin foil. Place a kettle at the point where the angles of reflected sunlight all meet, and you’ve got hot water for tea in 15 minutes – as long as the sun is high and bright.

Another option is an oven made of dried mud. It takes a few months for the mud to harden, and eventually it crumbles back into clods of dirt. But the materials are readily available, and when it’s working well it burns about half as much wood as a traditional open fire.

Among refugee women, the most popular alternative so far is a sheet metal contraption called the Save80. On average, it uses 80 per cent less wood than a traditional fire. Ten grams of wood – a mere handful of twigs – is enough to prepare a pot of rice. That means a woman who used to collect wood twice a week now only goes out twice a month.

And there’s another big selling point: you can use the Save80 to make boule.

Boule is the wildly popular dish eaten two to three times a day by just about every family in this region. It’s a viscous starchy glob, usually made from pounded millet that is boiled and thickened with flour. Everyone in the family gathers around the boule, reaching in with their fingers for a clump that can then be dipped into a sauce of gombo or green beans.

Boule is a staple and a comfort food. It can even be made out of the unfamiliar offerings in the WFP food rations distributed monthly in the camps. For those who find themselves living in tents far from their homeland, something familiar for supper can provide a shade of normalcy among all the loss and uncertainty. Now, with the fuel-efficient stoves, refugees are eating it every day, though they still face the risks of wood collection once or twice a month.

How to make a simple boule

Boil rice (or milled corn or millet) in a pot of water until it is pasty and the grains lose their shape.

Continue on low heat even after the water has boiled off.

Add a few spoonfuls of flour (wheat, millet, sorghum, whatever is available).

Stir slowly and deliberately with a big spoon or wooden paddle. This requires a folding or pounding motion and a lot of arm strength. When it’s well mixed, add another several spoonfuls of flour and keep stirring.

When the boule reaches desired consistency, empty it into a bowl. Swing the bowl back and forth so that the boule takes on the round shape of the bowl.

Turn it onto a plate, making a warm mound.

Eat with fingers, dipping each bite into a sauce made of gombo or green beans, or mutton with sorel or spinach.

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Miss Farrow on Tout le monde en parle

I just watched you on Tout le monde en parle on Radio-Canada. Miss Farrow, I watched you as a young actress and now I am very glad to know you as an activist. I too am sickened by what is happening in Darfour. I have read Roméo Dallaire's book, have seen the movies on Rwanda and cannot understand how the world can sit back and allow what is happening in Darfour. I have been to Guatemala as a volunteer. My group is responsible for the building of 4 schools there. Many women are suffering at the hands of men in this country as well. Sometimes we start feeling that we have done our share and now it is someone else's turn. Your appearance on this show tonight has shown me that as long as I can live in this beautiful country, I must get involved in what is happening in the world. Thank you.


I saw Mia tonight at a local TV show in Quebec. '' Tout le monde en parle''

I was verry touched.

I want to donate a % of my commision and i am able to convince some other felow to do so.

Just contact me.

Denis Paradis

the women and children of Darfur

Recently, I was inspired to contact Ms.Farrow after viewing a television segment related to her work in Darfur. Up til now I have only written letters to Pres.Bush and other congressmen through another Darfur website. I wish to do more. I recall a womens group that once wrote letters to war ravaged women in Ruwanda and I was wondering if that might be an option for the women in Darfur. Would something like that help? Looking for guidance. Sincerely, Joan

P.S. Could the children use anything that I might be able to make for them? Dolls,blankets,etc.???

How to donate for Save80 stoves for the refugees?

Can you point me to somewhere I can donate to help provide the Save80 stoves for the Darfur refugees? I'd like to help, but can't find out how!

answer: how to donate for stoves to prevent rape

Solar Cookers are provided to Darfuri women in camps in Chad through Jewish World Watch. To donate go to www.jewishworldwatch.org or call 818-501-1836.

I don't know about Save80s. A similar stove will soon be provided in Darfur by a group from Berkeley, CA called TISS -for full information see www.darfurstoves.org. They hope to be manufacturing and giving out the stoves in Darfur by summer 2008.

But the solar project is up and running now.

how do I donate Save80 stoves

I could not figure out how to donate money to get the Save80 stoves for the refugees.

Don't Sponsor Genocide!


Email the sponsors of the Genocide Olympics! Tell China to pressure Sudan to accept U.N. intervention!

olympic boycott campaign

You are a supporter of the campaign "Don't Sponsor the Genocide Olympics", whose organisers have declared their own international duty to make use of every item available for opposing the killing. That automatically includes making the following covered-up near-global advance in the nature of law publicly known to their supporters. Your contribution to the effort too can include online publicising of the "court change".

THE COURT CHANGE IN 159 COUNTRIES: court decisions are not final.

I have been frantically lobbying parties all over the world, in a series of political situations including the aid charities and G8 protests since 2001, to spread knowledge of the "court change". Its shifting of power in favour of ordinary people ensures that it has been under a media silence. Nevertheless, it's on publicly traceable record through petitions 730/99 in the European, PE6 and PE360 in the Scottish, parliaments. Since 7 July 1999 all court or other legal decisions are "open to open ended fault finding by any party" instead of final.

This follows from my European Court of Human Rights case 41597/98 on scandal of insurance policies requiring evictions of unemployed people from hotels. This case referred to violation of civil status from 13 May 1997, yet the admissibility decision claimed the last stage of decision taken within Britain was on 4 Aug 1995. ECHR has made itself illegal, by issuing a syntactically contradictory nonsense decision that reverses the physics of time, and calling it final. This violates every precedent that ECHR member countries' laws recognise the chronology of cause and effect, in court evidence.

Hence, the European Convention's section on requiring a court to exist requires its member countries to create an ECHR that removes the original's illegality, by its decisions not being final. It follows, this requires courts within the member countries to be compatible with open-ended decisions and with doing in-country work connected to them. Hence, legal decisions within the member countries' courts also cease to be final and become open-ended, in the 47 Council of Europe countries.

The concept of "leave to appeal" is abolished and judges no longer have to be crawled to as authority figures. Every party in a case is automatically entitled to lodge a fault finding against any decision, stating reasons. These are further faultable in return, including by the original fault finder, stating reasons. A case reaches its outcome when all fault findings have been answered or accepted.

World trade irreversibly means jurisdictions are not cocooned but have overlapping cases. When a case overlaps an affected and unaffected country, the unaffected country becomes affected, through having to deal with open ended case content open-endedly, that can affect any number of other cases open-endedly. Open-endedness is created in its system.

So the court change is of far-reaching international interest. Anyone can add to the list of court change countries outside the Council of Europe, showing autocracies, pending their freer futures, as well as democracies.

America, Canada, Australia through an ethical dispute about brain research with Arizona university in the late 90s, stalled by an American government obstruction of justice.
Obviously there will be many cases making these 3 countries court change, so I should not be seen as seeking the ego fantasy of taking personal credit for it through my case, but time priority entitles me to put my case in the list like this.
Israel and Lebanon through the case in Belgium on the Sabra-Chatila massacres.
Kosovo through war crimes cases overlapping Yugoslavia.
North Cyprus through Turkey's UN legal challenge against South Cyprus joining the EU.
Belarus through its election dispute with OSCE election monitoring.
Vatican City through Sinead O'Connor's ordination as a Catholic priest.
Cuba through Elian Gonzalez.
Haiti through objecting to receiving petty crime deportations from America.
Antigua through its constitutional crisis on capital punishment.
Trinidad through its Privy Council case on capital punishment.
Jamaica through claims on both sides of American linked arms trade background to its violence.
Mexico through the Benjamin Felix drug mafia extradition to America.
Belize through Michael Ashcroft.
Guatemala through the child stealing and adoption scandal overlapping America.
El Salvador through the trade union related factory closure there by Nestle that made Transfair, the Fair Trade organisation in Italy, reject the Fair Trade mark for Nestle coffee.
Nicaragua, Madagascar, Mauretania through the complaint by Jubilee USA and Africa Action that the IMF is breaking the agreed debt relief terms for them.
Honduras through the sex slave trafficking cases from Nicaragua.
Colombia through America's supposed human rights policy intervention in training Colombian police and military.
Venezuela through Luis Posada Carriles.
Guyana through the £12m debt claim dropped by Iceland (the shop).
Brazil through EU immigration unfairnesses to its football players, necessitating a mafia trade in false passports.
Argentina through its ECHR case on the General Belgrano.
Chile through General Pinochet.
Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay through Judge Garzon's citation of Henry Kissinger for the South American military conspiracy Operation Condor.
Chad and Senegal through a French action in Senegal obtaining Chad's former dictator Habre for trial under Pinochet's precedent.
Algeria through the Harkis' case from the Algerian war.
Tunisia through the Lord Shaftesbury murder trial.
Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Morocco through the Insight News case.
Ivory Coast through the chocolate slavery scandal.
Ghana through the World Bank's Dora slave scandal.
Togo through the Lome peace accords for Sierra Leone, and their breaking as an issue in factional arms supply to there.
Burkina Faso through an arms trade case of smuggling through it from Ukraine to civil war factions in Sierra Leone and Angola.
Niger and Rwanda through Oxfam's case of buying an arms trade "end user certificate" for Rwanda in Niger.
Burundi through the war crimes trial of Rwanda's 1994 head of state.
Tanzania and Japan through the 2000 G8 summit, because Tanzania Social and Economic Trust broadcast a contradiction in implementing both its wishes for economic advance and its debt relief terms.
Mozambique through its cashew nuts dispute with the World Bank.
South Africa and Lesotho through a WHO case against American pharmaceutical ethics there.
Nigeria through reported Nigerian drug mafia crime in South Africa.
Dahomey and Gabon through their slave trafficking scandals overlapping Nigeria and Togo.
Zimbabwe through its land finances dispute with Britain.
Equatorial Guinea through the charges in Zimbabwe of a coup conspiracy.
Malawi through its arrests of Zimbabwean refugees callously deported from Britain.
Zambia through Cafod's collection of objections to food supply and health violations in its IMF structural adjustment program.
Namibia through the Herero genocide case against Germany.
Angola, Congo Kinshasa, Ecuador through arms trade smuggling to them from Bulgaria and Slovakia.
Congo Brazzaville through the Jean-Francois Ndenge case in France.
Sudan through Al Shafi pharmaceutical factory suing America for bombing it.
Ethiopia through the same, as well as earlier aid sector comment on its conditional debt relief.
Eritrea through its border dispute with Ethiopia.
Somaliland through its problem with Russian and South Korean coastal fishing.
Kenya through the Archer's Post munitions explosion case overlapping Britain.
Somalia through the UNHCR coordinator in Kenya protesting and exposing refugee deportations back to Somalia during the 2006-7 crisis there.
Uganda through the Acholiland child slave crisis and Sudan's agreement to return children.
Mauritius through the Ilois rights judgment on the Chagos clearances.
Yemen through its problem with Spain over the missile shipment.
United Arab Emirates through Mohammed Lodi.
Saudi Arabia through the lawsuit by families of 911 victims.
Qatar through the capture of Saddam Hussein.
Bahrain through the call for American witnesses in Richard Meakin's case.
Kuwait through the terrorism arrests in Saudi Arabia.
Iraq through the weapons inspection dispute before the invasion. NB this does not mean the dispute or invasion were right!
Jordan through its threat of "unspecified measures" in its relations with Israel.
Egypt through its disputes with Tanzania and Kenya over use of Nile water.
Libya, Syria, Iran through the Lockerbie bomb trial.
Turkmenistan through Ukraine's gas pipeline dispute with Russia.
Kazakhstan through the American court action on oil contract corruption at government level there.
Uzbekistan through the ambassadorial exposee on evidence obtained by torture there and used in Western courts.
Kyrgyzia through its anti-terrorist border operations with Uzbekistan.
Afghanistan through Bin Laden.
Pakistan through a dispute between supporters of enslaved women and the British embassy for not helping them escape.
India, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia through the World Wildlife Fund's campaign for tiger conservation, conflicting western romanticism with local populations affected by the homicidal absurdity of conserving a human predator.
Nepal through the Gurkhas' lawsuit for equal pay and pensions.
Vietnam through a church publicised refugee dispute overlapping China.
Cambodia through its enactment for a trial of the Khmer Rouge Holocaust.
Laos through Peter Tatchell's application to arrest Henry Kissinger.
Thailand through Sandra Gregory.
Burma through the Los Angeles judgment on the Unocal oil pipeline.
Sri Lanka through its call for the Tamil Tigers' banning in Britain.
East Timor through public reaction to the judgment against trying Suharto.
Papua New Guinea through WWF's Kikori mangrove logging affair.
New Zealand through its ban on British blood donations.
Vanuatu through the Raymond Coia investment scam case.
Nauru through the Australian civil liberty challenge on the Tampa refugees.
Fiji through its land crisis's nonracial solubility by a Commonwealth constitutional question against rent and mortgages.
Tuvalu through environmentalist challenges to America's rejection of international agreements on global warming and sea level.
Marshall Islands through the Nuclear Claims Tribunal cases.
Philippines and Malaysia through the international police investigation in the Jaybe Ofrasio trial in Northern Ireland.
South Korea through its jurisdiction dispute with the American army.
North Korea through its apology to Japan for abductions.

American Olympic Atheletes

We spent 6 months at Colorado Springs in the late 1990's. Our daughter was an athelete hoping to train locally then move up the ladder and get sponsorship. She was not an Olympic athelete at the time. There are many atheletes who come to the area to train who are not involved with the Olympic Committee. We did receive an initial offer which we turned down. It involved compromising our values.

The Olympic Compound has a high wire fence with imposing buildings and lots of security. It's called a compound - and that's pretty accurate. They are just using the facilities and buildings to organize the US effort in sports competition. We didn't see any need at all for a huge wire fence and all that security. So this in my mind automatically, implies that something else is going on.

Our experience at Colorado Springs gave us insight into the Olympic organization and we can share that with you here tanks to Mia Farrow. Although an offer was made, it had so many implications and strings, it was oppressive. Atheletes who agree to train under Olympic supervision, must comply with corporate sponsors who expect a payoff on their investents.

Corporate sponsors for the Olympics start at the Olympic Compound. They have a heavy interest in training and spotting potential atheletes. Not only are the atheletes required to be excellent atheletes, they are also required to reflect the "right" attitude and endorse the corporate sponsors. The corporate sponsors pay for their training. Atheletes usually don't have the funds.

There is an elite class of atheletes who come from wealthy families looking for an investment in their own children. These children are pushed when they are young, so by the time they get to adulthood, they think of themselves as atheletes, no question.

The corporate sponsorship is so massive and so oppressive, we walked away from what would have been a once in a lifetime opportunity. Individual values come first. Maybe this is ok for some families, just not for mine.

There are families that do sell their souls to the Olympic dream, and frankly, that Olympic dream looked more like a nightmare once we compared the freedom our family has vs. compromising our values.

When I investigated into the politics further just to clarify the choices of this potential offer, we were told "if you don't like our rules, go compete for another country". They misunderstood why I was questioning them. They became indignant, not cooperative. They were arrogant. That was the red flag I was looking for. Would they be arrogant if they are questioned? Do they dictate the rules or do they act like reasonable men and women?

Then we were told that many American atheletes leave the United States and get citizenship in other countries so they can compete. This is unthinkable to us. The American Olympic Committee representatives telling us to move to another country if we don't like their rules. You can read whatever you want into that statement. I'm sure if you tracked the atheletes, you would find a few who left the US and did compete for another country.

I tried raising my voice and being a little assertive. That was met with the security guards following me out of the compound. The general demeanor at the Olympic Compound is, we make the rules, there's the door. I was actually afraid for my own safety the entire time I was on the compound. I considered it thuggery.

I am also an investor. I understand a litte more than the average investor. The corporate sponsors are very well known and heavily invested companies with thousands of employees. Divesting out of corporations that support the national economic interest is difficult. They have a heavy hand at the Olympic Compound. They've enjoyed entitled treatment for a long time.

They co-mingle their corporate international business with politics. The Olympics is really not about sports in the first place. It's a political forum. These same events could be conducted in a small forum. All the atheletes do is compete - they can do the swim event at the Rose Bowl, the track event at some sports stadium, anywhere, the long distance, just about anywhere. Then record the statistics and give out the medals.

This is a corporate hoopla for cash. Nike has special equipment for it. The corporate sponsors cash in. Who knows what else they use these compromised atheletes for as far as the political agenda - but that's nothing new. It became a forum for politics a long time ago.

Competing as an American athelete is not about sports. It's about an athelete selling out their heart and soul, and many of them are willing to do that. It's all in the sell. We weren't willing to do that. We're much happier in our decisions. Our daughter found a much happier place in Liberal Arts.

We left Colorado Springs happy in our choice. We cried for a half an hour, felt disappointed, but we knew the truth. So when you see these atheletes, they have to compete because of the corporate sponsorships they know about already, or suffer the consequences. And who knows what that is. And that is a human rights violation in itself -- to be held captive by a corporate investment in your atheletic skills.

They don't have the freedom to leave the Olympic investment.
That's sad. Either it's pushy parents, or coaches, or corporations, the athelete is a victim. They have to show up, even if they wanted to walk out, they have to show up or pay for it for the rest of their lives.

Solar Cookers, Fuel Efficient Stoves

The above article doesn't tell you how to donate to these wonderful solar cookers or efficient stoves, at least not that I found.

Here is how to donate for solar cookers: Go to www.jewishworldwatch.org which is the organization supplying solar cookers to camps in Chad. A donation of $30 provides two solar cookers plus cooking pots to one family, plus training, and these are widely used by the women in the camps.

Go to www.darfurstoves.org to support a project soon to be working in Darfur, which will supply fuel efficient stoves similar to Save80s; the stove requires only 25% of the firewood traditionally used by Darfuri women. Unfortunately the project is not operating yet but expects to be fully operational by this summer and is currently buying materials and set up arrangements in Darfur.

The solar project is up and running successfully in Chad and hoping to expand its operations. It has drastically cut down the number of trips outside the camps to get firewood, keeping thousands of women and girls safer.

Strength and Courage

The strength and courage the Darfuri woman in these trying times is very admirable , I can't imagine how I can cope living under the constant threat of being raped and killed. And what's more they have the courage to venture out to search for food so that they can feed their families.

We must do everything we can to help them by donating and spreading the word about their plight. Also somethin must be done to stop this continuing genocide.

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