My commute to work today was far from normal….. Sometimes I get stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway on my way to my base at Cord’s office in Leamington Spa but today was different. Using the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) I took three flights from the Chadian capital of N’Djamena before finally arriving on a dirt airstrip in Farchana, Ouaddai Province in Eastern Chad. Flying over endless miles of desert to get here combined with the fact that the only air service available is supplied by the UN tells you instantly that this area is remote!

As I travel in the car from the airstrip I can see that the rivers are all long dried up (the rainy season ended in October), vegetation is scarce and the earth looks scorched from the daily onslaught by the sun. So why I hear you ask do people live here? The simple answer is many people have no choice and no other place to go. Cord works in this area in four of the refugee camps created as a consequence of the conflict in Darfur back in 2003. The refugees I have met would love to go back to Darfur but conflict continues there, even to this day.

Whilst I am here I have the privilege of supporting the Cord Team here with an evaluation of the solar cooker project that has been in place since 2011. We are seeking to understand how solar cookers can impact on girls education, the surrounding environment and conflict in the region. The signs are very positive that some things have changed for the better.

However, for now the climate serves as a daily reminder to me of how hostile life is here, you only need to spend 5 minutes outside in the sun here to fully appreciate why a good education is necessary for the refugees to help themselves shape a different future that leaves them less vulnerable to this hostile climate and more able to work independently for a better future.