26 West Nile schools embrace smart cooking stoves

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26 West Nile schools embrace smart cooking stoves
A students at one of the schools picks porridge.

A total of 26 institutions including schools and a prison in West Nile and Kiryandongo districts have embraced alternative sustainable cooking energy as a result of the intervention of Save the Children with funding from the European Union.

With the introduction of Lorena stoves for both household and institutional use, the modified cooking technology has reduced the amount of wood fuel used and also the emission of smoke which often results in respiratory issues.

According to Hamid Amin the Head teacher of Barakala Seed Secondary School located in Bidibidi Refugee settlement, they were spending shs 2.1 million per term on firewood purchases prior to switching to improved institutional cook stoves.

"Previously, it was costly for the school to provide meals to students. We would spend shs 2.1 million per term on firewood. Students who were unable to afford to pay for school meals would have to walk home for lunch resulting in lost study time and ultimately impacting academic performance. Now with this advanced cooking technology, the school spends no more than shs350,000 on firewood per term, and the improved stoves offer several advantages: they cook food faster, and emit less smoke,” he said.

Prior to the refugee influx in 2016, areas such as Bidibidi had a thick green cover.

However, the environment has deteriorated since then due to deforestation for charcoal production and construction by refugees and host communities.

The growing refugee population in Uganda has intensified the reliance on natural resources by both refugee and host communities, leading to environmental degradation, reduced groundwater recharge, and decreased food and nutrition security.

Albert Okwai the Project Officer for Save the Children stated that with funding from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa with the major aim of increasing environmental protection and forest restoration and also sustainable use of alternative energy sources by the displaced refugee and host communities.

With the target of increasing access to energy sources and having decreased dependence on natural resources though the use of alternative resources.

The European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has for the last 8 years donated over Euros 540 Millon in the development and humanitarian assistance to the national refugee response benefiting both the refugees and host communities.

Okwai said that they used some of the funds to build the 11 stoves to protect the environment, improve cooks’ health and ensure that the students don’t waste time getting their meals. `

"We have installed 11 cooking stoves in Yumbe, 6 in Adjumani, 3 in Terego, 2 in Madi Okollo, and 5 in schools in Kiryadongo district. These stoves will help conserve trees that would otherwise be cut down, as we aim to reduce the reliance on natural trees for at least 44,000 households."

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