Nelly Bassily | June 13, 2011
Finding energy for cooking requires time, effort or money. In rural Africa, the majority of people use charcoal or wood for cooking. But wood is a finite resource and is often used faster than it can grow back or be replanted. In addition, open fires are hazardous, and long-term exposure to cooking smoke can be deadly (for more information see http://www.unfoundation.org/our-impact/stories-of-impact/decreasing-child-mortality/time-to-tackle-one-of-the-worlds-deadliest-killers-cookstove-smoke.html ). Fuel-efficient cookstoves are one way to address these issues. There are many variations of cookstoves available. Some are built with local materials, enclose the fire, and provide a stand for the cooking pot, while others are made from metal or other materials. Solar ovens are also available, although they tend to be more expensive. The ceramic jiko stove is popular in Kenya: http://ces.iisc.ernet.in/energy/paper/tech101/jikostove.html
To see pictures of the stoves referred to in the story from southern Sudan, visit: http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/pressroom/features/acf-introduces-fuel-efficient-stoves-communities-southern-sudan
Another useful source of information on the variety of stoves available is HEDON, the Household Energy Network: http://www.hedon.info/
The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves was launched in late 2010. Their website states that the aim of the initiative, led by the United Nations Foundation, is “creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.” For more information, visit: http://cleancookstoves.org/
Here are links to other recent stories on the use of more efficient cookstoves and their relevance to climate change issues:
–Stoves, seeds could save African forests http://af.reuters.com/article/tanzaniaNews/idAFN2711500320110529
–Energy-saving stoves help protect Nairobi forest http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/energy-saving-stoves-help-protect-nairobi-forest/
-Uganda: Sun Smiling on Renewable Energy Initiative
Scripts from Farm Radio International on cookstoves include:
-Improved Cookstoves Make Life Easier for Women. Package 73, Script 2, January 2005.
-An Improved Stove Can Change Your Life. Package 36, Script 8, April 1995.
The topic of cookstoves would make an engaging rural radio program, as it touches so many people’s lives. As it is most often women who do the cooking, make sure you include women in the program, through interviews and features. The adoption of new and efficient cookstoves has been hindered in some regions because those responsible for cooking were not involved in decisions and information sharing.
Try to find women who use different types of cookstoves, whether they are fuelled by gas, charcoal or firewood, and ask why they women use that type. Find out if they have experimented with other types of stoves or fuels. Ask them what are the most important factors they consider when choosing a cookstove. You could even set up an experiment by asking one or more women to try a more efficient cookstove for a week, and then report their impressions on your program. And don’t forget to let us know about your program at firstname.lastname@example.org !