health, water and sanitation

Smokeless stoves, two years on

Back in 2015, Hannah Green, one of our UK Trustees, shared her experience of the traditional Ugandan way of cooking.

Doesn’t ring a bell? Let us jog your memory…

“When I carried out my PhD fieldwork in Butaleja, I spent a lot of time with people as they carried out their everyday lives. I attempted to ‘help’ them in the fields as they planted and weeded their crops, I sat under the mango tree chatting and peeling cassava, I pounded peanuts and attended women’s groups. These smoke filled huts made it difficult for me to spend more than a few minutes without feeling faint and needing some fresh air.

Rural Ugandan households normally consist of two structures – a living house, often made of brick with a tin roof (although many poorer families live in small thatched huts), and a ‘kitchen’, a smaller thatched hut where women spend time cooking over an open fire,often carrying babies on their backs. These women probably spend about six hours a day in these smokey kitchens, with unknown damage to their health and general wellbeing.” 

This is why our team in Uganda were keen to train local families to build smokeless stoves. And they started to do just that. Two years on, 154 families in the district have constructed smokeless stoves which are transforming their day-to-day lives in more ways than you’d expect.

‘’I’m so grateful for the training because I now have a smokeless stove at home. I had suffered with the smoke for a long time, but now I don’t have to worry because smoke will be emitted through the chimney. Thanks to the briquettes, I now use less firewood too, which is very time-consuming to collect and burns very quickly.” – Florence, Bubalya Group member

The women’s groups that Hannah spent time with all those years ago are now training each other to build smokeless stoves and briquettes (amongst other activities). Not only does peer-to-peer training expand the reach of this project, it empowers those delivering the training as they teach others the skills they have learnt.

The success of this project is testament to the innovation, hard work and shared responsibility of the local communities in Butaleja. This is why a little bit of HOPE focuses its resources on projects that are initiated and led by local people – enabling them to overcome the hurdles that prevent them reaching their full potential. If you would like to help us reach more people with initiatives like smokeless stoves, please visit our ‘giving’ page.