On a dry, hot and windy day in Ouarkhokh, it’s easy to see how an open cookfire could quickly start a fast-spreading, destructive fire in a family compound.
In fact, one of the many benefits that the women talked about with respect to the clay and sand cookstoves – stoves that CREATE! Field Technicians taught them to build – is that they no longer have to worry about cookfires destroying structures in their family compounds.
On our trip to Ouarkhokh, we had the opportunity to see the improved cookstoves these women had built, using free, locally available materials. We were happy to see how well-constructed the stoves were and how well the women cared for them.
The women’s pride was evident as they enthusiastically related the many benefits they were experiencing from using their improved cookstoves:
“Before I built my improved cookstoves, I used three twelve-kilo bottles of cooking gas per month. When I cooked I was always worrying about money. Now, one bottle of gas lasts for one month because I only use it when I want to heat something up that I have already cooked.
“With my improved cookstove I need just one large piece of wood to cook many meals. The cookstove works so well that I can take the piece of firewood out before the food has finished cooking, and it will continue cooking. The improved cookstove also keeps meals warm for people who eat late.
“Now that I have an improved cookstove, I no longer have to worry about animals tipping over the pot. I only use two pieces of wood to cook a meal. Before a large pile of wood would last only three days, but now it will last more than a week.
I’m also saving money when I iron my clothes because I no longer have to buy charcoal to heat up the iron. Now I can use charcoal from the cook fire in my improved cookstove to heat my iron. I save 200 francs [about 40 cents] each time I iron.”