Since 2013, The Cookstove Project has gradually increased its capacity in Uganda in an effort to address the devastating impact of the traditional open cooking fires. In the Mukono and Nakasongola districts in central Uganda we now have 20 employees in more than 50 communities.
According to a study by the World Health Organization, Ugandan women and children spend up to four hours per day collecting firewood, which leaves little time for income-generating activities. Young girls are often kept home from school to collect wood for the family, and families can spend a large portion of their family income in treating illnesses caused by open fire cooking.
Replacing traditional methods can be challenging and over the past three years, we have learned the importance of laying a foundation of trust and understanding.
Communication at the village level is a vital first step in gaining the communities’ involvement and active participation in the implementation of the project. We place a strong emphasis on communication, education, training, monitoring and evaluation, which helps us lay a foundation of trust and understanding.
We have a number of meetings with community leaders and families to fully explain the benefits of the project and the process involved in its implementation.
The families are advised on the necessary requirements to install the cookstove, including the fact that they will be responsible to collect all of the necessary materials and directly involved in constructing the stove. This level of engagement ensures that the families have a familiarity with how the stoves work and also a sense of ownership.
On the appointed day, a group of community members, about 10, gather at the family home together with the cookstove master. The construction of each cookstove needs to be of the highest quality, ensuring that the proportions of the materials and the measurements are accurate so that the wood will burn correctly and the fumes will pass through the vent.
All of the families are instructed on how to maintain their stoves and CSP also has a monitoring and evaluation officer who checks in on the families to see if any have reverted to the old cookings methods or if there any problems with the stoves.
In December, the monitoring officer visited 80 families and found that all of them were using the stoves correctly and enthusiastically with excellent results in terms of efficiency, safety and cleanliness.