sawdust charcoal briquettes As farms dry up, Kenyan women switch to clean energy businesses
NYERI, Kenya (Thomson Reuters Foundation )-Nyawira Njau sits on a stool in the tin shed, carefully arranging the top of a dozen stoves with aluminum foil.A phone call on her phone interrupted her attention, and she answered in one word: "Tomorrow "."This is 20 stoves ordered in mulanga County," she explained .".Making and supplying stoves in the central part of Kenya is Njau's work over the past year.The unusually long drought caused the fields and soil around Nyeri to dry up, forcing people to do seasonal work as road or construction builders.The burden of maintaining a family with very little resources falls on women like Njau, who must look for sources of income other than agriculture.More and more businesses are building clean energy businesses, such as selling stoves that burn less firewood than traditional stoves as alternative livelihoods.In the face of climate change, new businesses not only provide women with more resilient income, but also help to protect forests, thereby regulating rainfall and helping to avoid drought."The demand for stoves in rural households is growing rapidly due to deforestation, and there is little firewood available for cooking," said Njau .".Faced with poor crop yields due to irregular rainfall, she decided to sell her corn and potato stock to market traders last year to raise 30,000 Kenyan shillings (about $300 ).She then used the money to buy the equipment she needed to start her own business-sheds and cooking range materials.She regularly receives furnace orders worth 10,000 shillings ($100) per week, and the price of one stove ranges from 170 shillings to 200 shillings (about $2 )."In the past, it took me three months to grow and sell vegetables," she said ."."The money now allows me to feed my family and pay for my two children to go to school."Njau does not regret the shift from agriculture to agriculture.She said: "There was little harvest last year because there was no rain ." She stared at the dry shrubs on the farm."It will look the same for farmers this year.In the office of "Imarisha --a community-An organization named after English means "to do better"In the nearby village of Misha, coach Winnie mutroni showed Njeri Kiraithe how to mix charcoal dust, flour and sawdust in plastic containers to make charcoal coalMuthoni then puts the container into a green compressor that produces black coal balls that can burn for energy.Kiraithe is one of the hundreds of women trained in the clean energy business since 2014.The initiative is part of the Kenya Energy Enterprise Women's (week) project, funded by development charity practical actions, which encourages women in several parts of Kenya to become energy entrepreneurs.In Nyeri County alone, there are more than 120 women running Clean Energy Enterprises, and James Mwangi Maina, technical mentor for the sustainable community development services initiative, explains that the initiative is also on the weekly projectKiraithe said that she took part in free training because she could not make enough money from agriculture and that she intended to sell her potato stock and raise about 20,000 shillings ($200) to carry out the charcoal forming business."The training tells me that there is a high demand for charcoal coal balls in the central highlands of Kenya," she said ."."Chicken farmers, for example, prefer to keep warm at night with coal balls, because the smoke they emit will not suffocate you like firewood."Coal balls also protect the environment because they are made of waste," she added .".Former farmer Muthoni himself said that producing charcoal coal balls is faster and more rewarding than agricultural production."A 50 kg bag can sell for about 100 shillings (about $10) and a person can sell up to 20 bags a day to traders and farmers," she said .".Maina agrees with this, saying, "there is a better return for clean energy businesses because as long as there is an order, it is possible for women to make money every day, while agriculture is the only --off season”.Maina estimates that by the end of the year, the week project could create 450 jobs in Kenya, adding that it also plans to recruit men as trainees to address youth employment.Philip, Njau's husband, gave up his construction work and helped her manage and develop the stove business."Men should also be involved in this type of business because good returns will create harmony at home," he said .".Other students want to be trainers themselves."I also plan to train and hire other women when my business is booming so they can develop themselvesSaid Njeri.