Fuel-Efficient Stoves Protect Women, Environment
A new kind of locally made stove is making an impact on the risks associated with firewood collection and helping to preserve the environment in the process.
BY EMADELDIN RIJAL
“The new fuel-efficient stoves are useful and will never be substituted for traditional environmentally unfriendly ovens,” says Ms. Hawa Musa, a 40 year old woman from Narmala village, located 70 kilometres north of El Geneina in West Darfur. Ms. Musa is among the many women in her village who have stopped cooking over open fires and are now relying exclusively on a new style of stove that is easily constructed using locally available materials.
“I will no longer need to cook over an open fire,” she says, noting that she now has several fuel-efficient stoves, each sized according to the different pots she uses to cook. As a result of the rising popularity of these stoves, cooking over open fires is discouraged in Ms. Musa’s community, and in other communities around Darfur. Open-fire methods consume significantly more firewood.
As in many other rural Darfur areas, residents of Narmala village were accustomed to having their meals cooked over the open fires of threestone ovens, which are constructed as their name suggests: a pot is placed over three adjacent stones, with the fire burning below. Because this old stove design does not shield the fire from breezes, the flames burn brightly, quickly consuming firewood and sending up sparks that can set fire to homes made of wood, bamboo and straw.
In addition, because the firewood is consumed quickly in the old stoves, those cooking with them must collect that wood regularly, making long trips to forested areas and putting themselves at risk in the process. In Darfur, the task of firewood collection falls to the women.
Beyond the risks to property and people, open-fire stoves have broader environmental implications. The heavy reliance on firewood as a source of cooking has jeopardized Darfur’s fragile environment, leading to deforestation and erosion.
Read the full story in the November issue of Voices of Darfur. Download the magazine (PDF) here.
Fuel-efficient stoves, locally manufactured in Darfur, are quickly becoming more popular than the traditional method of open-fire cooking. In the SAFE Centre in Shagra village, North Darfur, women learn how to make the stoves as part of a WFP’s programme called Safe Access to Cooking Fuel and Alternative Energy. Photo by Albert González Farran, UNAMID.