In many developing countries, a lack of resources is the main reason why families struggle to survive. In Kenya, firewood for fuel is a huge burden to find and cut every day. Thus, the international NGO Practical Action created a solution to fight the issue of fuel: the fireless cooker.
A fireless cooker is an electricity-free and fuel-free device that helps families save time so they don’t have to sacrifice work to collect firewood.
Practical Action describes the purpose of the cooker as using “stored heat to cook food over a long period.” In a way, a fireless cooker is a simpler version of a crock-pot. It continues to cook the food after it is taken off of a heat source and keeps it warm for a long time, without wasting fuel.
To make one of these ingenious fuel-saving cookers is quite simple. Materials needed to operate the device include old clothing or banana leaves for insulation, rough cloth, heat-resistant polythene, two cushions (made from cloth stuffed with old clothes) and a basket big enough for cooking. Practical Action wanted to make it easy for families to use, so they chose materials that should be readily available in the communities in Kenya.
The first step in the creation process is to line the desired basket with old clothes or banana leaves. Then, a rough cloth is placed on top of the insulation materials to keep them in place. Next, the polythene is laid on top of the rough fabric to cover it like a bowl. The homemade cushions are then attached to both ends of the basket to store the heat inside.
The impact of this fireless cooker on the families and communities that use it are immense. Practical Action stated that it can reduce fuel use by 40 percent, “preserving scarce food and saving people hours of precious time.” One local of Kenya who is reaping the benefits of Practical Action’s invention said, “I am glad to know how to make a fireless cooker. It is going to be of great help to me since I’ll be preparing enough food before going to work on the farm.”
Not only is the fireless cooker environmentally friendly, but also it saves the stay-at-home mothers the tedious and arduous work of cutting and picking firewood every day. Now, the mothers in these households can focus on their children’s education and wellbeing of the family.
– Sydney Missigman