How a solar cooker has facilitated the life of Gulisanjid's family

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Май 07 2018

Gulisanjid Bekova lives with her family in the highland village of Roshorv in the Bartang valley. Severe climate (the village is located about 3,000 meters above the sea level) and harsh living conditions constantly put the villagers' endurance to a test. To cook meals and heat their houses Roshorv residents mostly use shrubs and scarce trees. All vegetation around the village was destroyed over the past few decades and the villagers are now facing a genuine fuel crisis. Fuel collectors now have to walk up to 10 kilometers to reach areas where teresken (a local shrub variety) can still be found.

"Our family consists of six people: my husband and I, our three sons and one daughter. My husband works as a teacher and I am unemployed. I perform domestic chores and look after the children. Collection and storing up of firewood taxes one's stamina and health to the limit. You know yourself how hard it is to live in a village, which is located so high in the mountains to boot with no electricity or alternative power sources" - says Gulisanjid.

In 2016, Gulisanjid took part in the project "Clean Energy and Women on the Roof of the World" which supplied her together with 19 more women from poor families of Roshorv and Savnob villages with sets of energy efficient equipment. Apart from a portable solar lantern and an energy efficient cooking stove Gulisanjid also received a porabolic solar cooker.

"I liked the solar cooker the first time I tried to use it. It produces no smoke, requires no firewood and you do not have to stand beside it all the time and scrub away soot after cooking. I could not believe that it was possible to cook using solar energy alone! During the first month of using the cooker, we spent half the usual amount of firewood" - recalls Gulisanjid.

Gulisanjid actively used the solar cooker from April until November 2017. Upon request of the environmental organization 'The Little Earth' she kept a record of firewood that she was saving. Gulisanjid's calculations show that her family saved about 1,290 kg of teresken over the eight-month period of the solar cooker operation. This amount of shrubbery would be sufficient to boil up more than 1,900 liters of water.

"Frankly, we had hard time to believe that such a simple device would turn out so useful. Apart from saving firewood I have now so much more time to attend to other matters because I do not have to travel as frequently outside the village to collect teresken. My children and I do not have breathe in smoke as before when we used a regular stove" - she says.

Gulisanjid has now become a true proponent of renewable energy sources. She is happy to share her own experience, demonstrate the equipment she received and explain its advantages and benefits to all those interested.

"I could see for myself that solar cookers, besides facilitating our lives, can also alleviate the pressure on our environment. We should use such devices everywhere. Using such technologies we could address a whole range of problems faced by highland communities" says Gulisanjit.

Solar cookers are affordable, reliable and user-friendly devices. They have no moving mechanisms or complicated parts and the use of solar cookers does not require any special technical skills or knowledge. One can use them to boil water, cook meals and even bake bread (see "Solar Bread in Bartang"). All in all, the Little Earth has distributed about 100 solar cookers in the Bartang valley over the course of several years under different projects.

Timur Idrisov, Environmental organization 'The Little Earth'