A major highlight of our recent trip to Senegal was partnering with the team from CREATE (an Oregon-based non-profit) to conduct a very successful training on improved cookstoves for villagers in Keur Soce. As in many parts of the world, most homesteads in Keur Soce collect firewood found in the surrounding areas to fuel fires for cooking.
However, deforestation is a major problem in this already arid climate, and families must spend more and more time collecting enough firewood to use throughout the day.
This is a big burden on families, with some keeping a child out of school in order to go search for wood, as well as a big burden on the local environment.
Inefficient cookstoves not only require more precious firewood, but they can also create health problems such as respiratory conditions. In the photo above, you can see the traditional method of cooking over a fire that is inefficient at containing and conducting heat, and then at right is the finished product that can reduce fuelwood consumption by up to two-thirds!
Partnering with CREATE, we hosted over 100 men and women from Keur Soce and the surrounding communities to get hands-on experience to build their own more efficient cookstoves. The training team guided them step-by-step and involved them in the process to build a stove to be used daily at Keur Soce Primary School in conjunction with our nutrition program there.
Many of the participants were very excited to take this new knowledge home and create one for themselves. The best part of this basic technology is that all the components used - grass, sand, clay, and water - can be easily found in the community for absolutely no cost!
Small steps like these can make a huge difference for families by saving them precious time searching for firewood, giving them more time to take care of other important household tasks and potentially saving money. The additional beneficial environmental effects make this a vital part of daily life in rural Senegal and we hope to continue to grow this program and reach more families.