Conserve forests with charcoal-saving stoves


By Frank Lukwago, New Vision/NECJOGHA

Kampala, Uganda – In our bid to meet the ever growing demand of energy, the responsibility of conserving the environment is upon all of us because the rate of deforestation is alarming.

According to the African Natural Resources Institute, forest cover loss has now increased to an estimated 200,000 hectares annually. Despite interventions from the Government and other stakeholders, the country continues to lose forest cover at an alarming rate.

The demographic is partly blamed on Uganda’s rising population, which is growing at arate of about 3.6% per annum. At that rate, the population will approximately be 63 million people by 2025.

Unfortunately many homes and businesses entirely depend on charcoal and firewood as the main source of energy.

Richard Hamba, an energy trainer with the United Nations Habitat, says with cooking, many families today depend on biomass energy.

“It explains the huge negative impact families have had on forests. Due to extensive deforestation, currently, a bag of charcoal costs shs100,000 up from shs10,000 about 10 years ago,” he says.

However, Abudul Mugerwa, an expert in making charcoal-saving stoves in Mukono, says homeowners can minimise the amount of charcoal they use by adopting charcoal-saving stoves. The proprietor of Mukono Energy Saving Against Environmental Degradation Ltd,says, such stoves consume less charcoal compared to the ordinary ones.

“On average, one can use quarter of a sack of charcoal a month with one of the energy- efficient stoves, compared to the amount the ordinary metallic stoves consumes,” he says.

Hassan Kafeero, another charcoal-saving stoves’ maker, says this charcoal-saving stove has an interior clay moulding that helps to absorb heat from reaching the outer metal lining. It is built in such a way that even if children touch it, they cannot get burnt.

“It saves up to 80% of the charcoal. On average, it consumes one bag in three months compared to the metallic charcoal stove, which consumes one bag per month,” he explains.

A volcanic stove on display in a show in Kampala, Uganda recently.

How they are made

Kafeero says they select the design of the stove either a circular or rectangular lining that will guarantee a strong body for the stove. They then weld the metals together.

“We mix clay with a mineral called vermiculite and stone dust before moulding out the circular interior where charcoal is placed. We then leave it to dry for two weeks,” he says.

Vermiculite in the mixture helps to keep the stove’s interior warm for a longer time even after charcoal is used up. While the stove dust makes the stove durable.

After two weeks, the clay moulding is burnt from a kiln that strengthens and water proofs the stove.

Kafeero says the stoves have a warranty of two years. However, when used well, they can last about five years. This way, it will save many trees.

Mugerwa says these stoves cost between shs20000 and shs200000, depending on the size. However, they also manufacture firewood-saving stoves favourable for large families, schools, restaurants and hotels. These can be finished with tiles for beauty and durability. They cost between shs300,000 and shs3m, depending on the size and materials used.

How to maintain them

Kafeero advises the users to shield the stoves from harsh weather conditions, like rain and scorching sun, which gradually causes their depreciation.

“While adding charcoal or removing ash, do not shake the stove. Use a table spoon to push the ash down from where it will be drained without moving the stove,” Mugerwa says.

He adds that to minimize the consumption of charcoal, complement its use with other alternative sources of energy, such as electricity, gas, paraffin and biogas.

“It should not be charcoal alone. Use gas and paraffin stoves for warming food, electric cooker for preparing simple meals,” he advises.




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