Farmers in Uganda are fighting climate change by making charcoal briquettes out of farming waste. “To Empower Rural Poor Women Groups to Combat the Negative Effects of Climate Change” trains farmers how to make charcoal briquettes, and also includes reforestation efforts. This project seeks to restore the environment while giving people a sustainable source of energy.
200 households directly benefited
Increased household income from $1 to $3 per week
80 per cent of the smallholder farmers are women
Demand for wood fuel and timber is the major factor driving deforestation in Uganda. Four-fifths of Ugandans live in rural areas, and the majority of the population lives below the poverty line. A lack of modern and affordable fuels has forced people to depend on wood charcoal and firewood as an energy source, causing massive deforestation.
Increased deforestation has resulted in numerous environmental problems, such as drought, floods, and pests. Environmental degradation in Uganda has been exacerbated by factors such as pollution and poor farming methods.
Smallholder farmers in central Uganda’s Mpigi district are being trained in how to produce charcoal briquettes out of agricultural waste, like bean and rice husks, corn cobs, and grass. These freely available materials are kiln-fired into non-sooty briquettes that the farmers, mostly women, can use themselves or sell for cash.
With the support of CISONET, the project also sensitizes farmers on climate change and other environmental issues, and mobilizes them to participate in tree-planting campaigns.
Helping the planet
Recycling waste into fuel amounts to better resource management. This translates into less pressure on forest ecosystems. The briquettes burn cleaner than wood, which emits fewer greenhouse gases. Trees that are planted also combat climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Farmers trained in briquette-making learn a new skill that they can use to earn money. They also save money, and time, by not having to buy or collect wood. People who buy and use these affordable briquettes enjoy cleaner indoor air, and also pay less overall on fuel. Young trees are now growing in areas in Mpigi that were once bare, which will help reduce the ferocity of storms.
Demand is high for the cheap, sustainably produced briquettes, indicating that the project could be expanded further.
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