Mud Stoves Contribute to Increased Safety, Environmental Protection, Lighter Workload for Women

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By Hannah Basham
Jan. 9, 2020

Women from a small community in Kedougou learn to construct mud stoves to reduce deforestation and simplify their daily tasks.

Senegalese women can arguably be described as super human. They work morning to night, day after day, often with babies strapped to their backs, and still find the energy to laugh and joke with their friends. The list of tasks that women perform in Senegal is endless, from washing dishes to doing laundry, raising children, and maintaining gardens. But, one of the most noticeable chores is cooking. In a small community of about 260 people in the Kedougou region, the women cook over open fires, which means they are also tasked with gathering wood from the bush. Not only is this job extremely strenuous and time-consuming for the women, it is also harmful to the forest and environment, contributing to deforestation.

Knowing that mud stoves could both improve women's lives by reducing cooking time and the consumption of fire wood and decreasing strain on the local natural resources, PCV Hannah spoke with Sanoussi, a local farmer, to see if there would be any community interest in learning how to construct mud stoves. Sanoussi thought a training of this nature would be beneficial and well-received by the community. So with his help, PCV Hannah organized a group training, as well as a series of one-on-one teachings to increase the number of households with mud stoves.

The women were excited to use the mud stove technology because it helps protect small children from accidentally burning themselves, and reduces unwanted fires in the community by preventing wind from carrying sparks. As most structures in the village have grass roofs and the climate is extremely hot and dry for most of the year, huts can easily ignite from the sparks of a cooking fire.

Since the first training in April of 2019, mud stoves have been embraced in the village, with 20% of households adopting them so far. PCV Hannah has followed up with women who now cook with this new technology and they have reported that the stoves cook noticeably faster, despite using less wood. Some women said they used as much as one-third less fuel! More women are eager to build their own mud stoves, but the rainy season led to a brief hiatus in construction. Now that the dry season has returned, Sanoussi and PCV Hannah are continuing to extend this skill to all the households in this community.

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