Lorena energy saving stoves - changing lives of women in rural communities

Brenda Kakai - Project Officer - Salem and Micheal Sunday - Project Officer - METGE

January 2021

According to the National Forestry Authority (NFA), Uganda loses about 2% forest cover annually. Mbale District is one of the districts in the Elgon sub-region that has suffered a massive loss of trees. In the Mbale District, trees are cut for brick burning, a lucrative business for many youths in the area, but uses vast quantities of wood. Large quantities of wood are also used on daily basis for cooking food.  METGE is passionate about redressing this loss of trees. One way is to greatly reduce the quantity of wood consumed for cooking, leaving more trees in the environment. The solution is a more efficient stove.

Traditional three stones cooking method

Mount Elgon Tree Growing Enterprise (METGE) through its implementing partners is engaging communities to address the problem not only through tree planting, but also through supporting the tree planting beneficiaries to construct energy saving Lorena stoves. This year the target is 1,000 stoves!

Many beneficiaries have used the stoves and their stories do not deviate from that of Ms. Allen Bulage, a resident of Namabasa Village, Namabasa Parish, Namabasa Sub County in Mbale District. Allen is 61 years old and a mother of 4 but also living with 5 of her grandchildren.

In May 2017, she participated in the training organized by a team from Salem Brotherhood, a delivery partner organization with METGE, Ms Bulage recalls that they were trained to make cooking energy saving stoves.

She recalls “One of the topics that the team talked about that caught my attention was how to use less firewood and cook food using energy efficient Lorena stoves. To me, this remained as the most meaningful training I have ever attended in my life,”

She says "...it was difficult for her to prepare meals especially beans because it needed more firewood for them to get ready. The firewood was not readily available because, the boys in the village kept cutting down every significant tree they saw to burn bricks for survival,”

She added: "...that “during rainy seasons, access to firewood would even be more difficult and this would make preparing meals for her family more challenging. But ever since the Salem team helped me to construct the Lorena energy saving stove in my small kitchen, I now worry less about firewood. Before, I would wonder where I have to get firewood to cook food for my family. At some point, my grandchildren used to bring plastic bottles and we use them as firewood”, 

Ms Bulage cooking with her Lorena stove

“This stove uses less firewood (usually 3-4 pieces of about 6 feet long) to prepare two meals at a go and boil water for drinking.  The stoves keep warm for a long time and therefore I cannot worry about having cold food. I am also cooking from a smoke free environment unlike using the three stones cooking fire place,”  Ms Bulage  narrates

Today, Ms Bulage keeps repairing the stove by smearing it with sand mixed with cow dung and grass straws. This does not allow the stove to crack due to too much heat. If you are a new visitor to Ms Bulage’s home, you may think the stove was made a few weeks ago and shows how much she values the Lorena energy saving stove.

Ms Bulage appreciates the tree planting programme for the Lorena stove initiative which has made her life so easy as a mother. She is confident that among all beneficiaries in Namabasa Village, she has enjoyed the best from the stove and wishes other people to embrace the initiative.

Now Ms Bulage with her husband and grandchildren can relax in their kitchen as she prepares food for them.in a relatively smoke free environment

© 2021 METGE