Posted on 29 April 2020
Asha Makoti, bends to her knees to check on fire in her stove and rose up smiling and thumbs up. Ninafuraha meaning I am happy.
Ms Asha stove is one of the 75 stoves constructed by Leading the Change Programme at Msijute Village. “Having Improved Cook Stove(ICS) at my home and business has helped me use around 60% less firewood.”
Located at the Mtwara Highway the village is home to 2310 (1066Men, and 1244Women) people who depend on land and forest resources for their livelihoods. For women land is for growing crops consumed at the house and forest re key source of energy’s and water sources
“Each week I will go to the forest twice to collect firewood. Taking three hours per trip leaving many of my household chores unattended. Upon my return I will prepare meals form my family using a stove that requires constantly tending to the fire. You could not move away otherwise you will burn the food or have it half cooked. Now, with a single bundle makes me cook for the family and make 2000 Tsh of profit a day from my snacks business its life changing. ’she adds.
Having grown up in the village where cooking on an open fire is the norm, Asha, understands that each efficient low-cost household firewood stove constructed in her village means fewer trips women and children will make to the forest.
“As a girl child I spent most of my days fetching firewood for the family’s a traditional open fire made up of three stones on which cooking is done. At times wood will be scarce and we will walk for a longer distance. To void many trips learnt to balance fire wood and hope the bundles will last. By the time I was an adult, I had learned to withdraw the sticks when the food is almost ready but with little effect because of my stove,” said Asha in recollection.
According to Asha acquiring the efficient stove freed her time and helped her explore food business “First, thing that got me excited about my stove is that it used less wood and I do not need to babysit the food. I set my pot and do other things with less worry because the fire is well contained. Secondly, it made me realize my longtime dream. I always wanted to start a home-based business that will increase my household income. I was hesitant because I knew any food related business will mean more work for me. Because I will need more firewood. So, when I got the stove, I decided to make snacks for sell-cakes and fried bread (mandazi),”
The week Asha began using my stove she took her first trip of the week to the forest returning with 40 medium size sticks. After five days of cooking my family meals three times a day and making the snacks, Asha realized she was left with enough sticks to last me two more days. Concluding she only has to make one trip per week.
In year 2019 Leading the change Programme in partnership with TaTEDO introduced efficient low-cost household firewood stoves at Msijute Village. Following community mobilization and demonstration events the programmes trained 26 Training of Trainers (TOT) - 5 Men and 21 Women. Coupled with field practice the training equipped the ToTs with skills to construct and maintain Low Cost Improved Household Firewood stoves. The ToTs where later deployed to their community.
“At the beginning we concentrated in creating awareness about the clean cooking issue. We provided information on the stoves and it added many people did not believe and were hesitant worrying about the price. When we informed them, we will use local materials they agreed that how Asha got her stove. From there the word spread and many households are now reconstructing their stoves. Women and children work load has reduced and less carbon emission,” explains ToT Winnie Mhako who is also ward Community Development Officer.
Leading the Change Programme is promoted energy efficient cooking technologies as a solution designed to tackle climate change, alleviate poverty and improve health in Ruvuma Landscape. With more than 400 efficient charcoal and firewood stoves installed and being used in Ruvuma Landscape households since the program started in 2018, the impact multiplies: reduced use of forest wood, lower levels of greenhouse gases and a marked improvement in livelihood for the stove users.
Conserving natural resources including forest is key to a healthier environment and economy. And, of the ways to achieve that is to increase access toe energy efficient technologies in forest resources- dependent communities.