Imagine a life without gathering fuel wood in the forest. No daily walking tour to carry the heavy burden back home. No lifetime of cooking above a charcoal fire. It would mean that women can do other things, it is so much healthier and children could go to school instead of collecting wood.
PISDA (Partnership for Integrated Sustainable Development Association) is working on it! In Debre Zeit the organization established a factory that is providing a package of five sustainable cooking systems. And not just that, they train people how to use and produce it themselves, and they keep in touch with the communities to monitor future use. The package costs 650 ETB, the users pays 30% and institutional donors pay 70%. Very committed members, who believed that the best way to fight poverty was to work on the sustainability of life, founded PISDA in 1998. Ten years later, in 2008, PISDA joined the Ethiopian chapter of Horn of Africa Regional Environment Network (HoAREC/N). Chief director Ato Gullilat Aberra: “We try to bring sustainable solutions closer to the people, to make them less dependent on biomass. We believe that our mix of cooking systems offer a good solution for all the kitchen work; activities that are determined for so many women.”
Cook it all…
Main product is the solar cookit, produced in the house: a card board and aluminum foil glued together, a black painted pot and a plastic back. That’s all it takes to cook a meal. And sunshine! And since Ethiopia doesn’t lack sufficient hours of sun, this is an ideal system to cook sustainably. During the Rainy season, families can use the Rocket stove, which uses five times less wood than the regular three-stones fire cooker or a normal firewood stove. For baking injera the package contains a Mirte Stove, an almost closed burning system that saves fuel as well uses three times less wood than the regular Injera stove. Another material included within the package is the Hay basket, that is filled with cotton and hay, to keep the cooked food warmer, useful for the farmers who have to travel long distance or for a family that cannot afford to have more than one solar cookit. And finally, the package contains also a water pasteurization indicator or WAPI. It is a brilliant system of bic-pens and powdered wax to create a thermometer, which indicates when the water has reached the right temperature.
Mainly women work in the factory; it is a business from women, for women. Empowerment and sustainability in one process! The factory faces one challenge however. To guarantee future production and the spreading of the sustainable systems, PISDA needs institutional donors or even better: local businesses that will invest in the ‘70%’. This is where the HoA-REC Network can be of use; linking interested parties to enhance the production. So spread the word, let’s make this sustainable cooking profitable!