In developing countries most people including schools cook using wood or charcoal which is considered to be cheaper compared to using other sources of energy like gas, fuel, wind energy and hydroelectricity among others.
The traditional method of cooking is on a three stone cooking fire place. It is the cheapest stove to produce, requiring only three suitable stones of the same height on which a cooking pot can be balanced over a fire. However, this cooking method also has many problems such as smoke emitted into the home causing health problems.
However, schools which include primary, secondary and other higher institutes of learning are being encouraged to use improved cooking stoves which can be heated using wood, charcoal and animal dung.
This is an initiative by a none governmental organisation, Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP) that has been sensitizing over 300 schools both primary and secondary in adopting improved cooking stoves as a means of reducing the cost of purchasing firewood.
According to Ms Juliet Gibbs, the financial access officer who links the schools to banks to obtain loans for purchasing the stoves, her team has so far gone to 300 schools and 16 of them are already using this technology.
She said a recent survey commissioned by her organization in Wakiso District indicates that a number of primary schools spend over Shs400, 000 per month on buy of firewood meaning the strain is pushed to parents in terms of school fees.
This project has also identified fabricators who construct the stoves and basically the team links the schools and the fabricators to banks to create partnerships. The banks that are involved in the venture Post Bank, Opportunity Bank and Equity Bnk.
The current study according to the team indicates that 1.6 billion people worldwide have no access to electricity with another billion people having poor quality energy access and 2.4 billion cooking with traditional biomass including firewood which may result to degradation of the environment and depletion of forest cover
“The cost of preparing meals in Schools is so high when not properly managed using the right technologies. Schools that have installed improved stoves are cutting costs in their expenditure,” he said.
In an interview with Mr Sulaiman Kiberu, the director Makerere Kasangati Orphan Society Day and Boarding primary school based in Kawanda, he said previously the school used four lorries of firewood every term but after adopting this technology they are using one lorry of fire wood per term.
“ I remember in 2005 a team of people from GVEP came to our school and talked to us about the importance of using improved cook stoves saying it saves in terms of fire wood and money and in 2006 we purchased the first cook stove and now we have 7 of them which accommodate a saucepan of 350 litre capacity. We have realized it saves in terms of money and the food is also cooked faster,” he said.
According to him, the burden of smoke and the effect of too much heat is not realized by the cooks but the challenge is that these cook stoves are so expensive because a bigger capacity cook stove and it’s saucepan is sold at Shs5 million or more which may not be affordable to most school in rural areas.
The State Minister for Education Mr Chrysostom Muyingo is of the view that if schools adopt this technology it will help reduce the problem of people degrading the environment in terms of depleting forest cover for firewood.
“The use of renewable energy has not been popularized amongst nationals in Uganda, the same to wind energy and gas is being used by a few who are privileged. Many schools consume a lot of firewood which comes with higher costs and this burden is shifted to parents in terms of school fees therefore adopting this technology may lead to reduction in the costs of energy use,” he said.
He said improved cook stove usage in schools is a good initiative because it can reduce the usage of firewood by 60%. He urged GVEP not to concentrate in the sensitization exercise in one area but cover the entire country.
This initiative by the NGO started this year in March in all the East African countries and will run for the next five years but the challenge is whether most schools will be in position to acquire loans from the identified banks to purchase the cook stoves.
So far 16 schools have adopted this technology among other St Henry’s College Kitovu, Mukono Community Church Primary School, Wakiso Secondary School and Kampala Apostolic Secondary School.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor