South Nandi forest resources have long supported livelihoods of people living next to the forest, with firewood being the most important resource. About 72% of the households in the project area use wood fuel and consume over 2,165 tonnes annually. The task of ensuring that there is adequate fuel wood for the household is mainly left to women and girls. The women also do all of the cooking, so they suffer most from the effects of poorly ventilated kitchens with stoves that emit a lot of smoke.
Through the project “Improving livelihoods through sustainable government, NGO, private partnerships in South Nandi forest, Western Kenya”, Nature Kenya introduced alternative energy-saving devices, to reduce household level demand for fuel wood and exposure to smoke and other related illnesses that resulted from traditional cooking stoves. The alternative technologies were well received by the community. An exemplary case is that of the Sachangwan Women Group.
The project supported the group through trainings and providing materials for the fabrication of fuel wood energy-saving devices. It also supported the establishment of woodlots at the members‛ households. Interested members were further trained as Trainers of Trainers (ToTs) and the group has established an enterprise to produce energy-saving devices and to train the wider community on these alternative technologies. The devices include “jiko kisasa”, rocket stoves and fireless cookers.
The Sachangwan Women group has fabricated and sold 200 fireless cookers, raising half a million shillings. The Chairlady, Janet Chengo, and other women group members participated in agricultural exhibitions in the Masai Mara and Kisumu and as far as Mwanza in Tanzania. Within their Enego Village, the group ToTs have trained 500 households, who are currently using the energy saving jikos. From this success they they have moved out and trained people in 6 other villages.
The group has also produced 25,000 seedlings in their tree nursery. The members planted 15,000 seedlings in their household woodlots and sold 10,000 for 100,000/. The income from energy-saving stoves and tree seedlings were used in buying more materials (waste blankets, needles, polythene papers) for further production of fireless cookers and sustaining the tree nursery. The surplus was banked at a local bank, where members borrow and pay back loans with an interest rate of 10%. All the group members were helped to build a poultry house and to acquire 2 chickens each as a start-up for a poultry business.
In addition to income generation, the energy technology has helped the women of the community save on the time used to fetch fuel wood: most households use 2 headloads per week compared to 6 before the alternative technologies. There is also a reduction of respiratory ailments in the families due to reduced smoke emissions. And the women are empowered and appreciate the higher worth the community accords them.