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Pemba ยป Cooking

Can cooking a meal fight climate change?

The burning of charcoal or wood for cooking produces “soot” or black carbon. When black carbon enters the atmosphere, it traps heat and changes our climate. By cutting trees in order to get wood for cooking, we also reduce our planet’s ability to capture and store carbon from the atmosphere. The CFI team’s approach to fighting climate change through cooking had to work two separate angles. First, stop trees from being cut down. Second, improve the efficiency of cook stoves in order to burn less fuel.

In 2009, CFI began experimenting with a simple wooden press designed by the Legacy Foundation. This press can be used to compact waste material, such as sawdust, paper, leaves, rice husks and charcoal dust into a simple “briquette” that can be burned instead of charcoal. A group of women in the town of Chasasa, Pemba began piloting the technology and has since taught another 5 communities how to use the press. This new technology has reduced the amount of charcoal and wood fuel burned for cooking. Less charcoal and wood means more trees standing in the forest.

In 2012, CFI began tossing around the idea of an improved cook stove.  Fortuitously, a woman named Salma wandered into the Pemba office one day and told of a simple clay stove she’d been making.  “Is this something that CFI wants to share?” Salma inquired.  CFI took the clay stove to the Chasasa women’s group and Salma trained 20 women how to manufacture the stoves. These 20 women returned to their homes and have since taught an additional 120 women. Collectively they built over 600 stoves before CFI lost count. These stoves use half the amount of wood as the conventional method, reducing the impact on the environment and saving women hours each week spent collecting wood for fuel. Stove producers have been selling surplus stoves and improving the original model for efficiency and style.

Pembans are innovating climate change solutions. With a little bit of support from CFI, Pembans are able to take risks and challenge conventional methods of living.  By their own ingenuity, Pembans are now improving household incomes while also reducing their impact on the environment. Imagine if the solutions to seemingly insurmountable challenges like poverty and climate change came from the people that need it the most?