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FAO brings fuel-efficient cooking to communities in South Sudan
With around 1.7 million displaced people in South Sudan, many regions are hosting large numbers of families which not only places a burden on the surrounding natural resources but also on households to fulfil their needs for cooking fuel. The traditional method of cooking on open fires or three-stone fires used by women is inefficient in terms of energy, along with being time and resource consuming as firewood is often in far-off areas and buying charcoal is costly. With the influx of displaced people, forest areas that were once used for the collection of firewood are now dwindling.
South Sudan has a natural resource-based economy and when it is over-stretched there are severe constraints on livelihoods. In places where displaced people have assembled, competition over natural resources has caused high tension and fighting between host communities, so it has therefore become important to help utilize the available fuel resources sustainably and curb the high demand.
“These days collecting firewood for cooking is not easy, and sometimes we will stay for days without food because there is no firewood to cook with,” said Jersy Yata, a beneficiary from Lainya County in Central Equatoria State. “Everybody is looking for firewood and every day we have to go further and further from our home to get enough to cook with. I have no time for anything else, and I cannot afford to buy it in the market – it’s too expensive,” she explains.
In order to address the cooking energy needs of vulnerable families, particularly women, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and partners have recently distributed over 2 000 fuel-efficient stoves and trained 820 women on how to use them in Lainya County near Juba. A further 15 000 stoves will be distributed in 2016 as part of the Emergency Livelihood Response Programme.
The fuel-efficient stoves being distributed by FAO use 50 percent less firewood for cooking and in turn reduce the burden and time spent collecting it — which can take on average four to six hours, covering distances of up to 25 kilometres. Traditionally, women are responsible for collecting firewood in often isolated areas, so the fuel-efficient stoves are also helping to reduce the exposure of women and girls to sexual and gender-based violence.
Louisa Kamisa, a displaced mother who arrived in Lainya in September said the community is not happy with their arrival and often direct them to far off places to collect firewood. “Walking all that way takes a lot of time and also it is not safe since men are around and attack us,” she said.
“With the fuel-efficient stoves, we are now seeing a more positive impact on the lives of women,” said Serge Tissot, FAO Representative in South Sudan. “They spend less time looking for firewood, giving them time for other things such as income-generating activities, and therefore strengthening their livelihoods.”
“The stoves promoted by FAO are also durable, highly portable and lightweight to allow for mobility, so if the beneficiaries decide to resettle elsewhere they can easily take the stove along with them,” Tissot said.