Meet Khaled Bashir, the man who has taken upon himself to make the life of fellow Gazans a bit easier and more comfortable. Bashir is well aware of the crippling effects chronic energy crisis has had on the lives of those in the Gaza Strip. What is more, current fuel and food shortages, inadequate electricity and insufficient drinking water actually foretell a far bleaker future for the region. However, an optimist at heart, Bashir has built a simple, yet efficient, solar oven that relies on the one natural resource Gaza has been truly blessed with: the sun.
Years of conflict and violence has managed to bring Gaza to the brink of economic extinction. According to a survey conducted by UNICEF, more than 41-percent of the region’s populace is currently unemployed, with approximately 39-percent living below the poverty threshold. Despite unprecedented population growth, in recent years, authorities have failed to rectify the ongoing food, energy and water shortages. Unlike most other places in the world, electricity in Gaza is a rationed affair. On a seemingly good day, a Gazan household receives only about eight hours of power, every day. A study, by the World Bank, states that over 190,000 people – around 10-percent of the population – actually live without any electricity whatsoever.
A resident of the Deir al Balah area, Bashir, 50, holds a masters degree from South Africa’s University of Pretoria. Previously employed at the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, Bashir is at present working for a company manufacturing construction materials. He built his very first solar-powered oven, way back in 2000, as an attempt to explore alternative natural resources for the purpose of cooking. He said:
My initial objective was clean energy. This oven is better than an electric or gas oven. It uses natural energy that doesn’t cost anything and is available in Gaza year-round. Solar cooking helps keep the flavor and quality of the food, and it never burns, because the sun is in constant motion.
Running entirely on solar power, the oven uses zero electricity and even gas to operate. Featuring a simple wooden exterior, the contraption uses the glass from old mirrors to focus the sun’s energy directly onto the cooking surface. The oven usually heats up to 284°F (nearly 140°C). This ensures that the food is cooked slowly, yet effectively. Speaking about his creation, Bashir said:
You can make everything in this oven, except tea and coffee… I fill a tank only once a year. It was only this past year that I realized now is the time to tell people that there is an alternative to gas, electricity and fuel. Instead of waiting in long lines for a tank of cooking gas, they can rely on a source that’s available to everyone.
So far, the man has helped build 20 such solar-powered cooking ovens, mainly for his neighbors. Priced at 700 shekels (around $185), each of these ovens take two days to construct, and is remarkably easy to operate. Bashir said:
I’m not doing this for profit. I want to see the young people of Gaza turn to alternative energy. My house is open, and I’m willing to share my knowledge.
Via: Gaza Gateway