ACF Introduces Fuel-Efficient Stoves to Communities in Southern Sudan
Ngong Tunc Malok’s home feels eerie and deserted; the still smouldering ashes bear witness to the devastating fire that robbed the family of its livelihood just one day earlier.
“I was alone with some of the children when the tukuls [huts] caught fire from the open fireplace used for cooking; there were no adults here to come to the rescue. There was nothing I could do. First, the tukul where we store all our clothes, cooking utensils and harvest burnt down, then it spread to the second one where we keep the animals. Everything is so dry, it happened so quickly, and there was no one to let out the animals…all three goats perished.”
Ngong’s misfortune is not uncommon in southern Sudan or in much of the developing world, where open fireplaces are a common way to cook. Uncontrolled fires like the one in Ngong’s home are not the only hazard, either. Every year, the smoke from open fires kills an estimated 1.9 million people, mostly women and children, making this one of the five most serious health threats facing poor people in developing countries, according to the World Health Organization. Open stoves also lead to deforestation because more firewood is needed to create sufficient heat for cooking.
Many in southern Sudan know people who have suffered similar tragedies. Fortunately, ever since Action Against Hunger introduced fuel-efficient stoves to Ngong’s community last year, such incidents have become far less frequent.
Alor Kon Deng is one of the women who received training and materials from ACF to build her own fuel-efficient stove.
“Before, when we used open fireplaces, many houses burnt down and our children would have a lot of accidents. We collected the firewood from a nearby forest; it took two hours to walk there and back, and about another two hours to collect the wood. With the open fireplaces, this would last me for five days. Now, with my fuel-efficient stove, it can last up to two weeks. Cooking is also quicker as the fire doesn’t go out or is affected by the wind, so now a meal takes about one hour, whereas before it took three hours, and you constantly had to be around to watch it. Now, I can go and do other chores while the food is cooking.”
It may not look like much, but a single fuel-efficient stove that costs only $12 and takes just one day to construct, has had a great impact on Alor’s household of eight. With the time saved every day, she can now cultivate more land to increase her crops, and secure a small income to save for the dry season by selling straw at the market.
Only a small number of households from this village were involved in the project, but the benefits have been so obvious to Alor’s friends and neighbors that several of them were motivated to build their own stove. “I showed other people how to construct a fuel-efficient stove and helped them build it,” says Alor.
“I saw how little firewood the fuel-efficient stove uses and how safe it is,” says Akuel Geng, proudly showing off her own version. “With the open fireplaces, a lot of houses would burn down, and children would get hurt. I have never seen that happen with the fuel-efficient stove. Not once!”