Photo: Muhunga Bakyara Tweyimukye Cookstoves Project using the Briquette making machines procured and supplied to groups by KRC under DRDIP.
Muhunga Bakyara Tweyimukye Cookstoves Project was started by a group of women and men as a participant in the DRDIP project. The group is located in Mubunga Village, Ntonwa Parish, Bwizi Sub County, Kamwenge District. It’s comprised of 48 household members under the leadership of 3 female leaders including a chairperson, treasurer and secretary.
The group which is an early adopter of the briquette technology is now poised to become leading eco-preneurs with a concern for the environment.
Muhunga area is fast experiencing change in land use through cultivation and massive clearing of vegetation to establish farm land.
When the women of Muhunga Bakyara Tweyimukye Cookstoves Project enrolled for DRDIP as ardent participants, little did they know that a business opportunity was soon to unfold. But it took an entrepreneur spirit for the women to find a business opportunity in there. The group started out as a village self-help group doing savings and credit.
Like many areas hosting refugees in Uganda, Kamwenge District where these women live, has experienced deforestation as trees are cut down to make charcoal and firewood. The formally forested landscape is gradually facing depletion of natural vegetation and wood resources, aggravating the severity of the climate and making it more difficult for families to subsist on family farming.
The region is also recently and frequently experiencing prolonged dry seasons in the last few years. Households find it so challenging to access adequate cooking energy derived from biomass. So, it is no surprise that the members of Muhunga Bakyara Tweyimukye Cookstoves Project lined up to learn how to make the charcoal briquettes, generate income and help to save trees.
From the time they were trained in briquette making and supported with a motorised briquette making machine by KRC, the women embraced briquette production as the best alternative cooking energy source. They have not turned back since.
The hitherto domestic waste of peelings, crop residue and dry grass can now be converted into charcoal briquettes using the machine.
Equipped with the skills and the machine, the women saw it as not only a solution to their household cooking energy challenges but also as a source of income to the group.
During the training the members produced one sack measuring 130 Kgs of briquettes which members agreed to use some 70 Kgs in their energy efficient cook stoves constructed by KRC in their households as a way of testing the technology. They then sold the rest (60Kgs) at 500 per Kg and earned earn 30,000 UGX. After discovering this potential income source, individual group members started buying on their own at a fixed rate of 500 UGX per Kgs and selling to none members of the group at 700 UGX per kilogram of charcoal briquettes.
The women agreed that the initial proceeds be ploughed back into production of more briquettes by buying fuel to run the machine. In the proceeding production cycle, the women produced five sacks of briquettes which they sold and earned 297,500 UGX. The business continues to realise positive cash inflows while the women continue to increase production targeting to meet the potential briquette market demand. After testing the efficiency of the charcoal briquettes, the women also attest incurring reduced hardships while accessing cooking energy.