An innovative company in The Gambia has been working in collaboration with a range of partners to provide a sustainable and alternative cooking fuel for households, industries, restaurants, schools and other institutions that usually use firewood or charcoal for cooking, firing, or heating.
GreenTech Environmental Solutions in The Gambia is a company that seeks to minimize reliance on forests as a source of fuel and to also cut emissions, save money and provide cookstoves that burn fuel more efficiently. GreenTech has achieved this through producing and selling eco-friendly fuel briquettes made from groundnut shells that are sourced as a waste by-product from peanut farming. GreenTech has also been pioneering the use of efficient cookstoves in combination with the briquettes.
Deforestation in The Gambia is a significant threat to sustainable livelihoods, energy security and climate resilience. The vast majority of Gambians use wood from forests as the source of fuel for cooking – and schools have been identified as large scale consumers of firewood.
GreenTech and the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education signed a MoU to collaborate on research, awareness raising and hands-on activities to tackle environmental challenges. In cooperation with the Ministry’s School Agriculture and Food Management Unit, Greentech is currently undertaking a series of demonstrations and testing the use of groundnutshell briquettes in schools. Part of the research and stove demonstrations are to highlight the multiple advantages of briquettes over firewood – regarding efficiency, financial savings, visible smoke and general comfort in handling and storing the alternative fuel.
Initial research has been carried out at the Old Jewshang Lower Basic School. This school runs a feeding programme for their students – preparing about 1000 dishes each day on two stoves. When comparing briquettes to firewood , the research revealed that the briquettes were less bulky to store, easier to handle, produced less smoke during cooking and were cost efficient.
Thus the alternative fuel qualifies as a true alternative to firewood for school feeding programs. The program was undertaken successfully in eight schools in December 2012 and another 12 schools will follow in January 2013.
Besides the stove demonstration, a poster competition is being undertaken under the theme “Causes of Climate Change“. The competition serves as an educational tool to integrate students from the respective schools in the program.
At each event a winner will be chosen to participate in a final awarding and exhibition. The team has been overwhelmed by the response and skills the students demonstrated through their artwork.
The activities were made possible by financial support received through the SEED Award which GreenTech won in 2011.