Household cooking using traditional technologies such as three stone open fire, low energy saving metal charcoal stoves, locally built indoor stoves etc. encourage wastage of energy in a household. Such cooking technologies consume high levels of wood and charcoal which pose great risks to the environment since a large amount of trees are consumed in the production of charcoal and firewood for households using such technologies. Economically, this translates into high levels of household expenditure in the purchase of the cooking fuels i.e. charcoal and firewood. Health implications are also associated with use of traditional cooking technologies since huge quantities of carbon are emitted in the resulting smoke from such technologies. A recent study1 conducted in Uganda’s West Nile District of Arua indicated that 72% of households use traditional three stone open fire cooking technology. This encourages high levels of deforestation from harvesting firewood for cooking. No wonder, reports by National Forestry Agency (NFA) indicate that the highest levels of forest cover loss in Uganda are experienced in the Albertine Graben. These are areas along the Rift Valley basin of which West Nile Districts lie.
To avert some of the above risks, Rural Initiative for Community Empowerment West Nile (RICE-WN) is implementing a Renewable Energy Project in the West Nile region of Uganda with support from World Wide Fund for Nature Uganda Country Office (WWF-UCO) and local Civil Society Organizations based in West Nile. This project is aimed at increasing access to renewable energy alternatives i.e. improved cook stoves and solar home systems in the region.
Hon. Raleo Rose, a Youth Councillor with Adjumani District Local Government, is one of the beneficiaries of the project. Her story reveals the great benefits of the improved cook stoves that become of communities that adopt them.
She attended the project inception meeting that was held in September 2017 in Koboko District during which various stakeholders were invited to launch the project in the region. During the meeting, the RICE-WN project team elaborated the benefits of the improved cook stoves to the communities. Rose was compelled to buy one of stoves due to its cited ability to use 30% less fuel i.e. charcoal and firewood to cook. In her mind, she anticipated high savings on costs of charcoal to feed her fairly large family of 12. Rose purchased the cook stove on September 20th 2017 and 2 months later in November 2017, she was overwhelmed by the great performance of the stove.
Today, Hon. Raleo is saving at least 50% monthly on costs of charcoal in her home with an improved cook stove. Previously, Rose used to cook with a locally built indoor cook stove. She used to purchase 2 bags of charcoal a month in her home to feed her family. Now, she only uses 1 bag of charcoal per month.
1 bag of charcoal costs UGX 25,000 in Adjumani. Rose used to spend UGX 50,000 per month on 2 bags of charcoal to feed her family. Today, with only 1 bag of charcoal per month, she saves UGX 25,000 every month in her household. The improved cook stove is expected to last at least 5 years of cooking. In 5 years, Rose would be saving UGX 1,400,000 in her household which can be used to promote socio-economic development in her home.
Such benefits can translate into environmental conservation within the communities. The improved cook stoves in this project are manufactured with funding from World Bank which estimates each unit to save at least 33 trees annually since they use less fuel to cook. Hon. Rose believes that if households in Adjumani District would purchase the cook stoves, the future generations may still have some trees left in their environment.
“There is a high level of deforestation in Adjumani District. If my family alone used to consume 2 bags of charcoal in a month, how many bags are consumed by larger families? We should buy the cook stoves to conserve out trees for future generations.” – Hon. Raleo Rose
Story written by:
Monitoring & Evaluation Officer.
1 Dr. Samuel Baker Kucel et. al: A Socio-economic Study and Energy Access Baseline for Arua and Masindi Districts; 2017