Ismail Ibrahim Muhammad (not real names) is an urban refugee from Somalia , aged 23, he came to Uganda in 2014, currently does some causal work for survival which includes volunteer services like language translation services. Ibrahim has seen prices of charcoal in his community raise continuously (daily, weekly and monthly) as the quality continues to drop. ‘’I have seen a sack of charcoal raise from 50,000 UGX to 100,000 UGX in Uganda’’, says Ibrahim.
In our interview with him he explained that it’s very costly to buy and access cooking fuel in Kampala (the capital city of Uganda) and added that keeping food warm food means buying/using more charcoal which increases his expenditure. He added that the urban refugees need to find rent and this is a monthly cost and most of the urban refugees walk to the areas of work, to avoid transport costs.
This story relates to most of the refugees in Uganda and the citizens alike. The cost of fuel increases daily, weekly and monthly, especially charcoal; currently, a full bag of charcoal costs between UGX. 80,000 to UGX. 100,000. This is too costly for Ibrahim and his family to afford.
According to Sarah Basemera, the team leader at Raising Gabdho Foundation, the introduction of the fireless slow cooking basket was to address the high cost of fuel. The fireless slow cooking basket is an ideal way to keep food warm or to finish the cooking process without using fire. This saves fuel as well.
The fireless slow cooking basket is a braided basket made out of locally available plaiting materials like hay, reed, grass or bamboo. The plaiting materials are lined inside with fabric, filled with cotton or other insulating materials like chicken feathers, hay, grass, millet chaff, wool, rags or even recycled plastic bags.
RGF works with communities through training refugees and host community on production and sell the fireless slow cooking baskets using locally available materials and resources as a way to develop lasting approaches to safe and sustainable energy access and improve livelihoods. At only UGX. 50,000 as a one-time expense, an individual is able to own a cooking basket.
Food is prepared using fuel for quarter of the required cooking time and then placed in the cooking basket. This allows one to use the remaining fuel to prepare other foods hence using less fuel that would have been used to fully prepare all meals.
“We are really thankful to this solution. It is helpful because you use less cooking fuel while using a combination of the fireless slow cooking basket and fuel to cook , I don’t have to take my food to the fire again to make it hot” says Ibrahim.
Raising Gabdho, as a social enterprise, aims at accelerate clean energy uptake through innovative products to strengthen self-reliance and resilience to energy poverty among the vulnerable communities.
One of the approaches to promote the use and uptake of the fireless slow cooking basket has been through partnerships with development partners to enable the communities access the products through subsidies. To date over 2000 baskets have been made by community members (especially women and youth).
UNHCR and OPM through DCA have strongly supported the offtake of the fireless slow cooking basket both at production and usage. RGF engages the community members in the production these earn income from engaging in the process.
The demand for cooking energy is continuously increasing there’s need to find quick and working solutions to reduce the volumes used while cooking at both house hold and institutional level. Uganda as a country continues to struggle with forest recovery.