Environmental degradation due to school meals

I visited the Kwaang Secondary school last week and saw a massive stack of firewood that had been delivered to the school from unknown sources so that the cook can cook lunch for the students. I have no idea how many trees that represents but for the school it represents just two week of firewood

Traditional method of cooking is massively energy inefficient. Things need to change

Traditional method of cooking is massively energy inefficient. Things need to change

The cook's pots sat on 3 large stones over a roaring fire with flames going all over the place and the pot of beans was bubbling away furiously. My heart sank a few notches.

I talked with the teachers and shared some knowledge with them

1.       Thin pieces of firewood burn better than thick pieces and produce more heat. Greater surface area exposed to oxygen, so if the cook cuts the wood up she can make better use of it.

2.       This wood should then be stored and dried for 3 months. Direr would is less smoky

3.       Once a pot of beans is boiling it needs to only simmer. When food is simmering it is cooking as fast as it can so remove some of the firewood and save it for later.

4.       Put a lid on the pan this keeps the heat inside the pan and means you can reduce the heat underneath.

5.       Encase the fire and guide the heat to where you want it – i.e. on the bottom of the pan.

The firewood is paid for by the community led 'school meals committee' and it is with them we need to negotiate. Our plan is this –

  • LTT pays for a fuel efficient stove to be built at the school and the committee repay us from the savings they make. No savings – no repayment
  • LTT will train the cook on how to manage the firewood and heat and not melt the pan!
  • Once the repayments are made the savings for the community are used to fund a local person to establish a tree nursery and to grow plant and nurture suitable firewood trees within the school grounds, ensuring that at least 40 are planted each year. In 10-15 years’ time the school will have its own, sustainable source of firewood and no longer contribute to the national deforestation problem. If they do really well, they may start to sell within the community and generate an income for the school.

To kick start this project at Kwaang we need to raise just £200.

If you can – please help us get this money together so we can take action against deforestation and demonstrate to other schools how they can bring abut change.  

Julian PageComment