Vanuatu Women Lead on Climate Adaptation Innovation in Solar Fruit Drying –
For this project women on the Vanuatu archipelago use solar-powered food dryers to enhance their
resiliency to climate change. The solar food dryers of the project “Vanuatu Women Lead on
Climate Adaptation Innovation in Solar Fruit Drying” not only tap a clean energy source
– they contribute to food security while empowering women.
- Each solar dryer costs around $300 to produce
- More than 500 women have been trained in solar dryer technology
Vanuatu’s small islands are extremely vulnerable to climate change, and are already being affected by
extreme weather events. Climate change and climate variability impact crops and trees in Vanuatu,
which women directly rely upon for subsistence and income generation.
For instance, heavy rains in 2011 ruined Vanuatu’s mango crop, reducing income Vanuatu women make
selling these fruits at local markets. Climate change will continue to alter the ecosystems that
Vanuatu’s residents rely on, increasing food security risks.
For thousands of years, people have dried fruit and vegetables in the sun to preserve and store them for
leaner times. But now, new technologies have enhanced this practice and made it more efficient. The solar
dryer technology consists of a drying structure and a small solar-powered fan to circulate warm air. It is
especially useful when the harvest is abundant, seasonal and cannot be used all at once.
This project, supported by GIZ among others, encourages Vanuatu women to use solar food dryers to store
crops such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts for future use. The project also promotes recipes tailored to
Vanuatu’s unique fruits, vegetables, and other crops.
Helping the planet
Drying food prevents crop spoilage, which translates to better resource management. The project also
enhances the management of local forests and fruit trees. This is due to the fact that the trees are valued
more in their intact and productive state, rather than when they are cut down. The use of solar power
reduces dependency on fossil fuels, preventing further climate change.
Women are drying foods both for personal and economic purposes – meaning they and their families gain
a healthy snack, as well as monetary returns. This project has granted new power to these women, in
Vanuatu’s patriarchal society. This has reduced the injustice, discrimination, and abuse against
Global demand is currently increasing for healthy, low-cost natural foods. Since solar drying technology is
simple and relatively cheap, it has the potential to be easily copied by other communities. A guidebook and
step-by-step manual insure that the project can be replicated. This will help it increase in scale around
the islands of Vanuatu and beyond.
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