Women in rural Morocco are often responsible for the grueling task of trekking miles to collect fuel for cooking, which requires not only energy but also time that might have been used developing or applying other skills. Lacking access to natural gas, these villagers have had no choice but to burn biomass to produce the family’s meals – a situation that also has grave environmental consequences.
But a new initiative brought to our attention by Hicham Semlali has already profoundly improved the quality of life for residents of Ouffi Ait – a small, sunny village southeast of Marrakech. The Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECI) introduced 150 new solar-cookers, which allow women to spend time on cottage industries and give the surrounding forests a much-needed break.
Spreading solar like satellites
Working with the Foreign Association XXI and ADMR from Morocco, AECI targeted women as protagonists of a cleaner, more equitable future in their Morocco Solar Cookers for Rural Families project.
Aimed at overcoming poverty and exclusion, the initiative promotes using technology and renewable energy to strengthen the social and economic fabric of rural society and contribute to the successful management of natural capital and environmental preservation.
Semlali, a regular Green Prophet reader who emphasized that he is not involved in the project, but merely brought it to our attention after seeing this program on the Moroccan TV channel Al-Oula (the First) said that women are now freed up to start small businesses and young girls are able to stay in school longer without the pressure to help their mothers complete their chores.
“If the use of these solar cookers spread across Morocco like satellite dishes have done, hundreds of thousands of women in rural areas with no access to gas will wave goodbye to the daily hassle of collecting wood under extreme weather conditions,” he added.
Less greenhouse gas emissions
In Exterior 21, the Moroccan non-profit organization ADMR claims “the knowledge and use of solar energy as clean and renewable energy will reduce excessive energy consumption and biomass and stop the accelerating degradation, erosion and desertification of natural ecosystems.”
Also, as less biomass is burned, fewer greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.
The program includes training the villagers to use the solar cooker to make their signature dishes (such as Tagine) and the publication of a solar cookbook.
With some of the best concentration of sunlight in the world, Morocco is one of a few North African countries involved in the Desertec program to supply power to Europe. By 2020, the country hopes to install 2 Gigawatts of power, but these programs aren’t likely to trickle down to the country’s rural areas.
Image: Solar Cooker fromShutterstock