Berkeley Lab logo Cookstove Projects

The Problem

Since 2003, conflict in Darfur has killed at least 300,000 people and forced more than two million people from their homes, many of whom now live in large internally displaced persons (IDP) camps spread through the region. Although families in IDP camps receive food aid, they must still gather firewood for fuel. Due to the size of the IDP camps (some camps have more than 100,000 residents) and the desert-like terrain, wood is increasingly scarce. With deforestation, displaced women must walk up to seven hours to find a single tree, risking assault every step of the way. To avoid danger, some Darfuri women purchase wood from vendors... by selling the very food they need to feed their families. While the tangle of political and ethnic tensions underlying the Darfur conflict may seem beyond resolution, the solution to this one problem is clear: women in Darfur need a better stove.

How LBNL is Addressing the Problem

In 2005, Dr. Ashok Gadgil, Deputy, Energy Technologies Area, visited Darfur to address this issue. His team designed a stove which is tailored to Darfur's climate and cooking. The Berkeley-Darfur Stove requires less than half the fuel of traditional cooking methods, decreasing women's exposure to violence while collecting firewood and their need to trade food rations for fuel. Visit the project's archives to learn more about LBNL's early work developing a cookstove for Darfur.

Berkeley-Darfur Stoves Focus Group Discussion. Photo courtesy of Jan Maes 2011.

Now Potential Energy, a nonprofit organization, has already distributed thousands of stoves in Darfur and aims to distribute a stove to every displaced Darfuri family.

The Berkeley-Darfur Stove

When a team of scientists first embarked on a fact-finding mission in Darfur in 2005, they considered a variety of existing stoves as models for the Berkeley-Darfur Stove. Interviews, demonstration tests, and focus group discussions with Darfuri women revealed that a modified version of the Tara stove (first developed in India) would be most effective in reducing the amount of firewood needed for cooking.

Berkeley-Darfur Stove. Photo courtesy of Scott Sadlon 2009.

Researchers are continually testing the Berkeley-Darfur Stove at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California to better understand its impact.


While the Tara stove was determined to be the best fit, it needed to be modified for the food type, cooking style, pot shapes, and environmental conditions in Darfur (namely wind and sand). With the input of Darfuri women the scientists made a number of modifications, including:

Cutaway diagram of the Berkeley-Darfur Stove(R)
  1. A tapered wind collar that increases fuel-efficiency in the windy Darfur environment and allows for multiple pot sizes.
  2. Wooden handles for easy handling.
  3. Metal tabs for accommodating flat plates for bread baking.
  4. Internal ridges for optimal spacing between the stove and a pot for maximum fuel efficiency.
  5. Feet for stability with optional stakes for additional stability.
  6. Nonaligned air openings between the outer stove and inner fire box to accommodate windy conditions.
  7. Small fire box opening to prevent using more fuel wood than necessary.

Research Reports

back to top

Energy Technologies Area | Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Webmaster | Disclaimers

Copyright 2017 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
Last updated: April 04 2017 15:00:45.