Use of ‘rocket jikos’ helping to save forests in Western Kenya

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Dorcas Gigoni is busy preparing supper in her small kitchen. The absence of the traditional tree-stone ‘jiko’ (stove) is quite peculiar. Neither is there the smoke or soot commonly witnessed in traditional kitchens.

This Cheptol village resident is one happy wife and mother. Gone are the days when she was forced to cook in a smoke-filled kitchen. Equally gone are the days when she used to make daily afternoon trips to the nearby forest in search of firewood. Dorcas owes her happiness to the ‘rocket jiko’ installed at her kitchen.

“I am happy with the stove. I no longer have to go to the forest in search of firewood everyday,” she says as she adds a handful of rice into a pot of boiling water.

Dorcas is among the women in Koitabut, South Nandi, who have switched from the traditional three-stone stove to the ‘rocket jiko’ – an energy saving device. 

Lenah Muge, a member of Murembe Women’s Group is another proud recipient of the energy saving ‘jikos’.

“I used to go out to the forest that is about two kilometers away in search of firewood every day,” says Lenah.

She told us of regularly carrying firewood loads of between 40-50 kilograms on her head.

“The traditional three-stone ‘jiko’ would consume one load of firewood in a day since it requires a lot of wood,” she adds.

“This trailer load would last foe a few days with the traditional ‘jiko’. Nowadays it lasts for more than a month when I use the ‘rocket’ stove. Two dry pieces of firewood can cook a day’s meal,” notes Lenah.

The Jipange Youth Group is the local champion of this campaign. To date, the group has installed over 2,000 such devices in homesteads across Nandi South.

“Since 2008 we have constructed over 2,000 ‘rocket jikos’ here in Nandi South,” says Vincent Evayo, a member of the youth group.

The group is among the 80 community-based organizations in the area engaged in income generating conservation.

Rocket jikos can save up to 60% on firewood consumption compared to the traditional three-stone stoves,’ adds Vincent. “This means there is less firewood needed for cooking thereby easing pressure on the surrounding forests, particularly the Nandi forests.”

Vincent adds, “The good thing about these stoves is that they employ certain features to ensure there is constant supply of oxygen, which translates to complete combustion - thereby eliminating smoke.”  

The ‘rocket jikos’ cost five hundred shillings, which includes installation. They can be made out of a mixure of clay and cement, or out of clay.

The group also trains users on how to clean and maintain the stoves and holds demonstrations on how to use them.

 


North and South Nandi forests are Important Bird Areas. Nature Kenya with funding support from Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has been supporting the forest-adjacent communi