The traditional method of cooking over an open fire using firewood or charcoal is still used by the majority of households living in rural areas of Tanzania today. When the population was small this had little impact on the environment, but today there are 48 million people in Tanzania and the deforestation is rapid. The price of firewood is increasing and those who collect it have further to travel each time. None of the wood appears to come from sustainable sources
Aside from the environmental impact of deforestation has on the community and their ability to provide an income for themselves, the health impacts of persistent cooking over an open fire due to smoke inhalation are life threatening to the women (who usually cook) and their children.
There are alternatives………
Cheap and easy to use fuel efficient stoves can be built in people’s homes. These stoves, made entirely of mud and dried grass, contain the heat and direct it to the bottom of the pans. With little wastage not so much wood needs to be burnt and households can save over 50% of their firewood. A chimney is built into the stove and the smoke leaves through it
Women’s groups in Waangwaray and community groups in Managhat have been taught to make the stoves and can generate an income from their manufacture.
Another alternative, for those with livestock, is to build a biogas digester. Bio-gas is a by-product of anaerobic digestion process from any kind of decomposable organic material. Biogas is a combustible gas used for cooking, lighting, and many other domestic appliances. The resultant bio-slurry can be used as fertilizer on the fields and will improve soil fertility and productivity.
In addition it is easier, safe and faster to cook on, which bring about social economic gains, it is smoke free and can leader to a clean cooking environment.