- Published Date
- Written by Githinji Wachira
- Category: Features
Charles Mwangi shows some of their products
Sustainable Community Development Services-SCODE had for sometime observed that the numbers of timber yards in Nakuru were increasing every other year. They had realised that people were harvesting trees without replacement.
They decided to look for a local solution to the problem by reducing wood fuel use in rural homes and institutions. They as a result came up with the idea of making energy saving stoves, an idea that dawned on few Nakuru residents in 1996.
And as the project gained momentum, they expanded the project to cover other counties that include Nakuru, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Nyeri and Murang’a.
And in a bid to target the rural population, the group opted to locate their project about eight kilometres from Nakuru town.
SCODE now believes it is perpetuating the dream of the late Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari MAathai by conserving the environment.
According to the group’s Executive Coordinator John Maina, they deal with improved cooking stoves that include Maendeleo Jiko, Kenya Ceramic Jiko, Fireless Cooker, Institutional Stove, Rocket Stove, Kuni Mbili stove and biogas among others.
Maina points out that SCODE also works with other groups in the country that engage in conservation of environment such as the Kenya National Domestic Biogas Programme -KENDBIP whose role is to improve the quality of life of rural households in Kenya. The latter prevent biomass energy loss and advocating its use by residents for both domestic and commercial purposes.
SCODE is also an active participant in the Association of Biogas Contractors-Kenya (ABC-K) an association that brings together various parties interested in biogas technology.
Maina says that they make 1,500 stoves in a month and they are hoping to make more when they acquire donor funding.
“The major problem we are currently facing is lack of funds. We are unable to double the production of the stoves as we only raise a small amount from those we sell locally. But if we get funding, we shall be in a position to double the number and export some to more counties,” Maina says.
He says the last time they were funded by the European Union was last year. They are now calling upon area residents and leaders to support their project to enable them reach many people from the rural areas.
“We cannot reach the rural population well due to scarcity of resources and majority of the few we manage to reach claims our products are expensive,” Maina says.
The coordinator goes ahead to explain that they specifically started with the five counties because they are rich in raw materials used in the manufacturing of the cookers. They use scrap metals and clay to make the items. However, he is quick to add that it does not mean that if somebody from Kisumu or Mombasa places an order, the items cannot be transported there.
“Currently, we are implementing a project funded by the European Union. It involves making stoves for households and institutions use with the major objective being to enable women and men from rural and peri-urban households and institutions acquire, use and maintain energy efficient wood-fuel cooking stoves,” affirms Maina.
The programme started in October last year and will run for the next four years, targeting the five counties. It also target both men and women engaged in energy consumption.
“But despite all the challenges, we believe we have been able to make an impact by reaching a good number of people who are now helping in conserving the environment by using our products. We are glad that our efforts have earned the organization international recognition. In 2006 we scooped an energy global award,” Maina affirms.
The NGO won the award in 2006 in Brussels, Belgium for its low cost solar drying for food security project which they say was a great boost to their endeavour.
Currently, the company has been able to employ 40 people who are now earning their daily bread entirely from the project.
SCODE operations officer Anastacia Kamau also states that the project benefits mostly those in rural areas who have no access to electricity and clean energy.
They also sell their products to institutions that include schools.
“Some of the institutions include Nakuru high school where we sold a biogas and St. Joseph Kari Lanet high school among others,” Anastacia says.
“We provide local solutions and we are expecting that in some months to come we shall be distributing our products to other provinces in the country regardless of transport facilities,” Anastacia says.
Anastacia says their products are of high quality and are approved by the Kenya Bureau of Standards.
“We usually take advantage of barazas and field days where we educate Kenyans on the importance of the products in conserving the environment and the preservation of energy,” Anastacia states.
“We will not give up even after the completion of Rural Electrification Project. Our campaign of educating people on conserving the environment and minimizing pollution will continue. People should know that destruction of environment comes with health complications such as causing Asthma, Lung Cancer among other diseases,” Maina says.
“The dangers can be minimized by using some of our products such as the Rocket Stove which is smokeless and uses less fuel,” he concludes.