In Cameroon, many people depend on biomass for cooking and heating and the use of biomass can lead to indoor air pollution hence leading to respiratory diseases. The rapid population growth in Cameroon was not followed by changes in human behavior and technology; this brought about high dependence on fuel wood wherein the population sourcing for fuel wood has damaged the natural environment of the country.
The Wonder-Cooking Bag (WCB) project was launched as a result of the backdrop of too much consumption of fuel wood which leads to deforestation hence global warming. Therefore, this project recognizes the need to develop alternative energy sources so as to reduce these effects and conserve the forest.
Pro-Climate International (PCI) is an NGO based in Cameroon founded on the basis to address the dilemma of economic growth and global warming with the ambition to contribute to sustainable development. I helped PCI carry out this pilot project on fuel wood saving potentials of WCB in 16 rural and urban communities randomly selected from the South West, Littoral and Western regions of Cameroon.
A household survey on fuelwood consumption was conducted by PCI, in collaborations with the Department of Environmental Science, University of Buea, Cameroon, and the German based pro-poor climate consultancy Bridge Builders in the South West, Littoral and West regions of Cameroon. The research was funded by the German Protestant Development Service/Bread for the World, in the context of a pilot project for the identification of the household energy (especially fuel wood and charcoal) saving potential of heat retaining cooking bags, Wonder-Cooking-Bag (WCB), in these regions.
The following objectives were set out to carry out this study:
- To raise awareness on the environmental and health impacts of fuel wood consumption;
- To sensitize households on the use and benefits of WCB
- To distribute the bags for use by interested households
- To establish the fuel wood saving potential of WCB in households;
PCI used the promotion strategy with a multifaceted communication campaign and raising awareness about the risk of indoor smoke and the benefits of using the heat retaining cooking bag. The project team worked with local community leaders and social groups to disseminate behavior change messages.
Upon arrival in every community within the South West, Littoral and Western region, workshops were organized in the presence of participants (men and women) preferably women, since they are mostly involved in the process of cooking.
The aims of those workshops were to:
- Sensitize community members on the effects of deforestation and climate change
- Teach community members on the dangers of long exposure to smoke in the kitchen when burning fuel woods
- Describe the health and economic benefits of using the wonder-Cooking bags
- Teach community members on the advantages of using wonder-Cooking bags through the process of demonstration.
In each community where wonder-Cooking-bags are distributed, we worked as closely as possible with those women who acquired the bags. Details of what usually took place in communities are summarized on the chart below.
We conducted Kitchen Performance tests in order to determine the quantity of fuel wood the wonder-Cooking-bags can save. This was done by visiting the households for four consecutive days to weigh fuel wood that was set aside used for cooking without using the wonder bags yet. We carried out a general survey on the acceptability and usability of the bag. This was done with help of short structured questionnaires that were designed. Women are assessed on how helpful the bags are to them and what difficulties and discoveries they encountered while using the bags.
Written by: Earth Charter Young Leader, Rohdof Lactem Yengeh
PCl Field Team consisted of both staff of the NGO, volunteers and interns.
Mr Tsafac Jean Claude, Dahsong Clovies, Efon Elad Constatine, Jacqueline Engongwe, Talla Henry, Rohdof Lactem Yengeh, Tansi Goswill Tansi, Temta Alice Michelle, Patricia Tiako, Dauda Karimou, Dimo Cedric, Ebai Robert, Ebbert Martin Aike