How energy-saving stoves benefit rural women

Deo Mushi

INTRODUCTION of energysaving stoves in the Moshi Municipal Council in Kilimanjaro region has made difference in the lives of women in different households besides contributing to environmental conservation.

Beneficiaries of a Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Project affirm that they are using less firewood in cooking, thereby turning challenges of environmental conservation into opportunities for development at a household level. A total of 31 households in 9 wards of the municipality use energy-efficient stoves.

The criteria used to select the benefitting households included aspects such as use of SLM techniques, e.g., soil and water conservation measures, agro-forestry, woodlots, bee-keeping, etc, and ability to contribute 20% of the cost of construction of stove, which costs TZS 300,000/= equivalent to USD 165.

Mrs Aikasia Peter Lyimo, a food vendor at her Mfumuni Ward residence is a very happy woman who says she is proud to be a beneficiary because the project has reduced the burden associated with use of a costly and energy-inefficient stove.

She says “I was using a lot of firewood that I bought at a very high price. Just imagine, I had to part with TZS 10,000.00 daily to get 40 kilogrammes of firewood, but now I thank God for this project, I pay TZS 2,000.00 only to purchase 10 kilogrammes, which suits my daily needs.

The stove is so efficient that food cooks within a short time, and it does not get cold as long as it is kept on the stove. Since construction of the stove in September 2014, Mrs Lyimo has invested the savings of TZS 8,000.00 per day in the construction of a kitchen sink and an oven for baking bread.

She has also been able to settle school fees arrears for her children. “I had not paid schools fees for half the term. The money I have been saving has enabled me to settle the debt. I am also happy that as a family we can afford a balanced diet, we swap fish or meat for beans several days a week, we are changing for the better,” she says, smiling. Besides the financial benefit, there is the health and hygiene aspect.

The kitchen room that houses the stove is now decent because the stove has a chimney that conducts smoke up from the fire, as opposed to her former stoves that left smoke indoor, which is pollution and bad for health. Another beneficiary of the energy- saving stoves is Mrs Victoria Kiwia’s household in Rau Ward.

Being an environmentalist, she is very pleased to be a beneficiary of the project. She says “we were using about 20 pieces of wood, but now even three are enough to cook a family meal. Life is becoming good because we save a lot and invest the money in other uses. Sometimes we had to use gas or charcoal which are costly but we no longer use them.

We have this stove, it is enough for us.” Many people from Rau have also called at her place to learn about the new technology so that they could as well install the stoves at their places. Installation of energy- saving stoves will indeed contribute to reducing deforestation and land degradation, the whole purpose of the SLM project.

The SLM project is financially supported by the Government of Tanzania, Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). There is another relevant example on energy saving stoves.

By the time Khadija Mtungakoa was growing up, she had only one dream – to become a policewoman. But that did not happen as she did not go beyond Standard seven and subsequently went into subsistence farming.

After staying home for several years doing her little farming as a housewife, fortune came knocking on her way when she was invited by a friend to attend a course on making energy-saving stoves.

The training was organised by Tanzania Traditional Energy Development and Environmental Organisation’s (TaTEDO) In her village of Sakale in Muheza, they usually offered it free of charge but for it to take place, at least 20 people – with a bigger percentage being women – required to enrol.

The training took eight days and according to her, she was taught how to build and market the energy- saving stoves, skills that now earn the 36-year-old and her family their daily bread.

Among the products that she has been installing in people’s homes and institutions are the rocket brick stoves. In recent months, she has been sensitising people on the importance of the stoves. Khadija is among beneficiaries of 180 improved stoves in 364 households of Sakale Village.

Production of the stoves is supervised by Muheza District authorities, under technical guidance of TaTEDO. The jikos, which are smokefree and energy conserving, are made from mud, ash and ballast and can save up to 40 per cent of fuel.

They are also affordable and do not cause environmental or land degradation and desertification. “Apart from being equipped with skills and know-how, we want this to reach more people,” she says. She says they started the project with the aim of improving the livelihood of farmers.

The collaboration has seen more than 500 people trained in the region. Among the 400 people that we have trained, she is among the best and we normally send her to big institutions and hotels that require these stoves, she says.

As for her, the main difficulty she faces is accessing some of the areas, thus making it difficult for her to transport construction materials. She is, however, currently also involved in training her colleagues on how to make the “green” stoves.

Through TaTEDO’s technical assistance, 364 households have been assisted with 180 improved stoves at Sakale Village in Muheza. The production of the stoves is supervised by Muheza District authorities, under technical guidance of TaTEDO.

The TaTEDO coordinator for eastern zone Mudy Nyimbile, supervising the making of the energy saving stoves whose main raw materials is clay, says 1,000 of the stoves could save 1,716 tonnes of firewood a year in 11 villages surrounding the Amani Nature Reserve.

One of the beneficiaries, Beatrice Peter said she used to collect between two and three bundles of firewood, but she now collects only twice per week from the nearby Amani forest reserve. The Sakale village executive officer Allan Hiza said improved stoves project is important for the conservation of the Amani Nature Reserve.

Made from bricks, ant-hill soil, saw dust or banana stems for building the combustion chambers and fine sand, the stoves that are either permanent or semi -permanent can last for more than 10 years. They use one or two twigs and help to save energy, thanks to technology.

Besides saving the environment, the project leaders said that they are upbeat that the technology is increasingly turning into an income-generating activity as it spreads fast. Unlike the traditional three stones used for cooking or the usual charcoal stoves, rocket concentrates burning within the stove’s perimeter and heat is retained since the walls are built to absorb and keep it in. In some highly populated areas in the country, trees are cut with abandon since over 90 per cent of the energy needs are sourced from biomass namely firewood and charcoal.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is seeking to have the East African Community (EAC) member states to scale up the adoption of the clean cooking stoves technology with the help of local Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) like Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP). GVEP international works by providing affordable finance to small businesses dealing in modern energy equipment which can in turn be sold out at affordable prices.

An energy and environmental specialist, Mr Bariki Kaale, says biomass-based fuel accounts for more than 90 per cent of primary energy supply in Tanzania.

Mr Kaale says that commercial energy sources like petroleum and electricity, accounts for about 8 per cent and 1.2 per cent respectively of the primary energy used. Coal, solar and wind accounts for about 0.8 per cent of energy used. Unfortunately, says Kaale, the national energy balance has remained static for over five decades as from 1961 to 2011.

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