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7 surprising ways to survive winter in Afghanistan

The winters may be icy, but Afghans are creative! Discover the innovative ways that these resilient people stay warm during the coldest months of the year

Minus eight degrees celsius. It makes you shiver just thinking about it, right? Now, imagine that’s the average temperature all winter long and you live in one of the most vulnerable countries in the world. How do you stay warm? How do you cook your food? Well, you get creative. As BMS World Mission focuses on health and development work in Afghanistan, we’ve been inspired by seven innovative ways people there stay warm during the bitter winter months.

1. Sat-tea-lite dish

These people aren’t trying to access SKY sports, they’ve actually found a genius way to boil a kettle! Unlike in the UK, Afghanistan gets more sunshine in the winter and they can use it to their advantage. Afghans use the sun as a way to generate heat by using the parabolic shape of this reflective surface to collect energy from the sun. Once that happens it projects that energy up into the kettle, and they’re ready for a cup of tea. (Don’t try this at home in the UK, there’s not enough sunshine!)

2. Plastic wrap your gaff

It’s a slight spin on the traditional conservatory that you’d find around the UK, but it turns out all you need is some plastic sheets, wood and a roof to help retain heat in a home. It also functions much like a greenhouse, as many people also use this sort of space to grow vegetables indoors during the winter months so they have enough food to feed their families. Heating methods like this are not ideal or easy, but it’s a reminder of why we’re supporting the people in this country who face so many challenges. It inspires us as we work in maternal health, mental health and hygiene and sanitation training.

3. The ol’ jerry can in a box trick

Classic. We’ve all done it. All you need is a jerry can, some good old-fashioned sunshine and a glass reflector box. Like you probably have lying around the house right now. This is how Afghans heat water. It’s amazingly effective, and people often use this method for heating water to wash their clothes.

4. Enter Bukhari

This heating device, called a Bukhari burner, is a two-for-one kind of deal. It’s a traditional space heater that can keep the kettle warm and at the same time it heats a home. Score! The base of a Bukhari has a fire chamber where wood, charcoal and other fuel can be burned. On the top you’ll find a narrow cylinder that helps to heat the room and also functions as a chimney.

5. Hot potato!


Okay, so maybe this isn’t keeping the potatoes hot, but it is keeping them fresh and edible all winter long. This is a picture of what is called a “potato store” in Afghanistan. It’s a room that’s used to store potatoes at a constant temperature throughout the winter to ensure they don’t freeze and to provide families with enough food to eat! BMS is helping families build these throughout the country to ensure food security in the winter.

6. Here comes the sun

You might be surprised to find that solar power is being used in Afghanistan. Then again, you might not. One thing that Afghanistan doesn’t lack is sunshine. Free energy! Solar panels are extremely important to people as they use the sun to power lights in their homes and to charge phones and laptops.

7. Patty power

It may not be the most glamorous method of heating in Afghanistan, but burning cow pats gets the job done! This photo shows manure being dried on top of a roof, which will later be used for burning. It’s cheaper than most modern fuels and is a sustainable and renewable energy source for people in the country, despite the smell.
While Afghanistan lacks some of the basic infrastructure other countries have, Afghans use what they have to make the best of their situation. Here at BMS we’re committed to standing alongside our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan as we seek to aid in the health and development of the country, as well as sharing Christ’s love.

Please continue to pray for the people of this extremely vulnerable country. Pray that God keeps Afghans safe and warm throughout harsh winters and that he would give them the resources that they need to find the most efficient ways to heat their homes.

You can find out more of the ways BMS World Mission is helping Afghans with
hygiene training, mental health and maternal health and in new stories in the next issue of Engage magazine. 

This originally appeared on the BMS World Mission website and is used with permission.

BMS World Mission, 01/05/2017
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