With only 10% of the rural population of Uganda having access to electricity, it is no surprise that the rest of the population is forced to rely on other sources for food and energy. Unfortunately, this means that many people cut down trees leading to one of the highest global deforestation rates. Each year, nearly 3% of Uganda’s forests are cut down for fuel, agriculture and to make room for an increasing population. At the current rate of deforestation in Uganda, the country is likely to lose all of its forests in the next 25 years.

The repercussions of these actions are clear to see. Besides the landscape almost being completely devoid of trees, the dry season has become longer and filled with more droughts. The loose soil has caused heavy rainfall to turn into deadly floods, while crops are producing less and less yield. The wood from cut trees is mostly used to fuel stoves for cooking. But this has caused a separate issue where the smoke collects inside homes and causes respiratory issues for family members who stay at home and cook.

How Mud Stoves Can Help Reduce Deforestation

Badru Kyewalyanga, a local man frustrated by the minimal action from the government on the matter, developed a solution to this issue: mud stoves. The stoves are made of mud, water and straw, and require little time to be constructed. Balls of mud are thrown into the ground to remove air bubbles and prevent cracks. The mud is then molded around the trunk of a banana-like plant called the matooke tree. The stove is cut and arranged to form a combustion chamber, a chimney and several ventilation shafts. After two weeks, the mud hardens and can be removed from the tree and is ready for use.

The stoves are incredibly efficient as they require only half the amount of wood for fuel compared to a traditional stove and oven. In addition, the placement of the chimney when attached to a wall of the house means that the wood smoke can escape without being trapped inside. Kyewalyanga, along with local and international volunteers has worked together to build over 100 stoves helping villagers to breathe cleaner air, while also reducing the rate of deforestation in Uganda.

Use of Mud Stoves in South Sudan

The stoves have now begun to spread their usefulness to other groups of people in Africa as well. Refugees from South Sudan are often forced to venture into the forests for firewood or charcoal to prepare meals, which is risky due to the prevalent violence in the region. Unfortunately, they are left with little choice if they are to survive. However, they were introduced to a newer and more efficient method of cooking by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).

ADRA’s mission was to provide necessary supplies to the refugees escaping South Sudan. One of the items provided to the refugees was the mud stove developed in Uganda. Because the stove emits a smaller amount of smoke than a conventional stove and minimizes the number of trees to be cut down to collect fuel, they became incredibly popular. Members of ADRA were able to give demonstrations and trained women and children on its usage. These projects have shown that mud stoves are a useful and efficient way to provide a cheap way to cook food as well as fight deforestation in Uganda and other parts of Africa.

Aditya Daita
Photo: Pixabay

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is an organization set out to identify and address social distortions and deprivation in developing countries. ADRA focuses its energy on community development through six sectors: Protecting the Vulnerable, Supporting Families, Promoting Health, Providing Food and Water, Establishing Livelihoods and Responding to Emergencies.

Protecting the Vulnerable

ADRA aims to protect children who are sold as sex workers, advocate for women who must fight for the opportunity to learn to read and defend the millions of minorities and others around the world who suffer injustice.

Supporting Families

Families in poverty are the focus on this program. Orphans who are without food or shelter are cared for and looked after. ADRA also provides children with education.

Promoting Health and Providing Food and Water

ADRA wants to reduce the incidences of diseases by encouraging health and wellness. Coupled with improvements in sanitation and access to clean water, the basics of health and wellness can be achieved.

Establishing Livelihoods

By providing microloans and training, ADRA gives men and women the ability to support themselves and their families. This is one of the best ways to help someone escape poverty; with these opportunities, men and women can get back up on their feet and stay there.

Responding to Emergencies

We often see that countries that are in need are also often affected by unforeseen disasters. The ADRA is there to respond to those emergencies. By providing the basic necessities, the short term needs of disaster refugees are

ADRA deals with millions of funds in order to provide these programs. In 2012, $74,330,388 was spent on the functional expenses of the organization. Ninety-three percent of their funding goes toward their programs in the six sectors, while the rest of the seven percent is split between administrative funding and fundraising.

The many programs provided by the ADRA look to apply aid liberally by addressing many different issues involving those in need.

– Erik Nelson

Sources: ADRA, Charity Navigator
Photo: Adventist