Schools switch to smart stoves in West Nile, Kiryandongo

A student getting porridge from the Kitchen at Barakala Seed Secondary School
  • Introduction of Lorena stoves has reduced wood fuel consumption and smoke emission, benefiting both households and institutions
  • Schools have experienced financial benefits, spending less on firewood and improving meal provision for students
  • Deforestation for charcoal production and construction has led to environmental degradation in refugee settlements like Bidibidi

A total of 26 institutions, including schools and a prison in West Nile and Kiryandongo districts, have adopted alternative sustainable cooking energy. This is thanks in part to initiatives such as Save the Children funded by the European Union.

The introduction of Lorena stoves for both household and institutional use has led to a reduction in both wood fuel consumption and smoke emission, a common cause of respiratory problems.

Hamid Amin, the Headteacher of Barakala Seed Secondary School located in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement, explained the financial benefits experienced by the school since switching to improved institutional cookstoves.

"Previously, providing meals to students was costly. We spent 2.1 million Ugandan shillings (UGX) per term on firewood. Students who couldn't afford meals would walk home for lunch, losing study time and impacting their academic performance. Now, with this advanced cooking technology, the school spends no more than UGX 350,000 per term on firewood. The improved stoves offer several advantages: they cook food faster and emit less smoke," he said.

Prior to the 2016 refugee influx, areas like Bidibidi boasted a dense green cover. However, deforestation for charcoal production and construction by both refugees and host communities has since caused environmental degradation.

The growing refugee population in Uganda has intensified the reliance on natural resources by both refugees 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 funding was received from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The primary objective of the project is to enhance environmental protection, forest restoration, and the sustainable use of alternative energy sources by displaced refugees and host communities. The project aims to increase access to energy sources and reduce reliance on natural resources through the use of alternatives.

The European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has donated over €540 million over the past eight years to support development and humanitarian assistance in the national refugee response, benefiting both refugees and host communities.

Okwai said that some of the funds were used to build 25 stoves: 11 in Yumbe, 6 in Adjumani, 3 in Terego, 2 in Madi Okollo, and 5 in schools within Kiryandongo district.

"These stoves will help conserve trees that would otherwise be cut down, with the aim of reducing reliance on natural resources for at least 44,000 households," Okwai concluded.

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