| Boiling Point No. 04 - March 1983 |
In October 1982, The Gambia launched the first National Stoves Project to be implemented in the CILSS* region of West Africa. Funding was agreed between the Gambian government and the UN Sundano-Sahelian Office (UNSO) for a three year National Project. The Department of Community Development is responsible for implementation of the Stove Project, whose main objectives are to introduce 6,000 improved stoves into the rural areas, and 1,000 into the urban areas of the Gambia.
Traditionally, the open-fire is used for cooking in the rural areas, while in the urban areas metal charcoal burning stoves were used until the sale of charcoal was banned in 1980. The ban was imposed in an attempt to reduce firewood consumption but despite this an energy consumption survey in 1981/2 found that 20% of its urban sample still used charcoal for cooking and ironing. This finding, coupled with the inefficient burning of wood by a population accustomed to charcoal, has probably diminished the expected net energy savings in fuelwood.
Following the ban, in 1980 the Forestry Department embarked on the introduction of improved wood-burning stoves to the urban population. Their overall objective was to convince urban women that there was a clean and economical alternative to charcoal.
The Forestry Department was assisted by a Peace Corps volunteer working with the Rural Vocational Training Project (RVTP) at Mansakonko. He built the first new stove, which was a modified 'Lorena' with two pot-holes and a chimney. Since the objective was to introduce new stoves to the urban community, a series of training courses were organised for artisan masons, who would be competent to construct and repair stoves on a cash basis. During 1981, over 100 mud stoves with chimneys were introduced into urban areas and more than 40 people were trained in their construction. In the rural areas, the RVTP team built a total of over 400 mud stoves and over 100 people were trained.
* Permanent Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel, PO Box 7049, Ouagadougou, Upper Volta.
In November 1981, CILSS funded a National Wood-Saving Stoves Workshop, held at Mansakonko. This was the first event to embrace everyone involved or interested in the introduction of improved stoves to the Gambia. During the workshop seven prototype mud stoves, from all over the Sahel region, were constructed in a demonstration area, and then installed in several compounds of a nearby village.
With the launch of the National Stoves Project, the Department of Community Development has embarked on a programme of testing and modifying the prototypes to improve their performance, lifetime and acceptance by users. In addition, improved prototypes of metal stoves are to be developed for use in urban areas with ground-nut shell briquettes as a charcoal substitute.
Since the start of the National Project, the ITDG Stoves Project has been attempting to assist the Gambia and has carried out two consultancy visits to help set up the programme for testing and modification of stoves which will suit the rural and urban situations.