Fuel Efficient Stoves Are Saving Time and Trees in Burundi

In Gitega province, central Burundi, WFP is supporting the making and use of fuel efficient stoves by the rural community. The pilot project is funded by the German Government and has been welcomed by the people in Rushanga district.

Elisabeth Ntakarutimana is one of the 55 community members in Rushanga district who received training on how to make and use fuel efficient stoves.  She is full of praise for the project which was initiated by WFP some months ago in her community.

“You cannot imagine how happy I am. Cooking in the traditional way was difficult for us because of the heavy smoke,” she says with a broad smile. 

This mother of six is ​​stunned by the small amount of firewood she uses and how quick the food is cooked.

"Now my four children are not late at school because the food is always ready on time; the project is really a pride of Rushanga," she adds.


Double Duty

Cooking fuel needs in Burundi are primarily met by firewood used on a traditional 3-stone open fire which can cause serious health problems as a result of inhaling toxic smoke.  The fuel-efficient stoves are made of clay mixed with sand and rice husks and use briquettes instead of wood,  saving 40-45% of wood compared to the three-stone fire.

The initiative is part of a broader SAFE (Safe Access to Fuel and Energy) project supported by WFP in Burundi, whose success relies on an innovative combination of energy-related and income-generating activities addressing various challenges linked to the access of cooking fuel. These include nutrition, livelihoods, health, gender and environmental.  Vulnerable populations often undercook or sell food just to buy or save on firewood, jeopardising their nutrition.   Collecting firewood for cooking is not only a burdensome task for vulnerable women, it also has an adverse impact on the environment.  

The pilot phase is covering 3,000 households in Gitega province, and WFP and partners plan to scale-up this initiative to reach 10,000 rural households by 2019 to meet their energy needs.