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Ethiopia refugees’ clean stoves scheme wins international green energy award

The Ashden Award green energy prize awarded £20,000 for a pioneering sustainable energy project to the Gaia Association, an organisation working with the UNHCR in the Kebribeyah refugee camp near Ethiopia’s border with Somalia.
The Ashden Awards prize was presented to Milkyas Debebe, Managing Director of the Gaia Association, by Kenyan Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Maathai.

The Gaia Association in Ethiopia is transforming the lives of refugees by distributing stoves that use ethanol fuel, a by-product of the sugar industry. The area around the Kebribiyah camp, home to 17,000 Somalian refugees, has suffered severe deforestation and women were always in danger of attack when they went out to collect fuel wood. The new stoves are healthier and more efficient – and families can avoid using wood altogether. Now Ethiopian manufacturers are producing the stoves locally.

“I gave my stove to my daughter when she got married, so she wouldn’t have to face the dangers of going out to gather firewood.” Refugee Women’s Committee member.

Sarah Butler-Sloss, founder and chair of the Ashden Awards said: “Our judges were enormously impressed with the enthusiasm for the stoves among refugee women. Not only did the stoves prevent wood-collection, with its associated dangers and environmental impacts, they were also much safer, quicker and more pleasant to use, in particular avoiding the risk of respiratory and eye diseases from smoke inhalation.”

Accepting the Ashden Award on behalf of Gaia Association, Milkyas Debebe said: “The Ethiopian people, especially women and children and our growing refugee population, suffer increasingly from poor energy choices and energy poverty. Gaia is pioneering ethanol stoves and fuel, using Ethiopia’s natural resources. With support from the UNHCR and the Ethiopian government we are helping both Ethiopians and refugees. This Award will help us to reach more people in need.”

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of The Ashden Awards, personally congratulated this year’s Ashden Awards winners at a separate meeting. A Clarence House spokesperson said: "The Prince of Wales was deeply encouraged to learn of the solutions demonstrated by the Ashden Awards that can reduce our dependency on a carbon economy. His Royal Highness was particularly impressed by the local sustainable energy initiatives recognised and promoted by the Awards, which not only meet the needs of communities, but tackle climate change and further sustainable development."

Additional information: Ashden Awards
News date: 19/06/2008

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