Entering Ms Dorotia Gwosekera’s kitchen in Bujumba village would leave one wondering if there is any hope for a meal on a particular day. The smokeless atmosphere would certain create a cloud of hopelessness if there would be anything close to cooked food. This is the magic that Ms Gwosekera and the rest of women in Kalangala want to see. Truth is food is prepared with less smoke but most importantly with less firewood.
With support from National Association of Professional Environmentalists, NAPE through Bujumba Sustainability Development Association, BUSIDA the women in the area have embarked on a campaign to sensitize and help each other establish charcoal/firewood saving stoves.
According to Salongo Gyagenda Kabiri Jim Jem, the BUSIDA Chairperson, over 10 cooking points have so far been established and there is glaring desire by others to get involved. Gyagenda says the women have showed interest in being part of the conservation.
Ms. Berna Nakiwala, the NAPE field officer for Kalangala District says these efforts are aimed at saving energy and reducing pressure on the forested areas for firewood.
“Our goal is to see a reduction in tree cutting for purposes of firewood. Women can now collecting the branches that fall off”, Ms. Nakiwala explained.
The women are building energy saving stoves using locally available materials like soil, animal waste, ash, sweet potato vains and grass. The stoves use little firewood and emit less smoke. This saves the environment and humans from a lot of smoke but also less wood is needed to cook thus preserving tree cover.
Peruth Atukwatse, the NAPE Sustainability School Project Assistant believes the efforts of women in this regard need the support of every stakeholder.
“I’m happy that women have taken a lead in this but everybody’s support in crucial”, Atukwatse contends.
Kalangala has lost considerable amount of vegetation cover to oil palm growing by BIDCO. In 1998, BIDCO acquired over 10,000 hectares from government to establish oil palm plantation. Increased reduction in forest and vegetation cover would result in the reduction in water levels of Lake Victoria.
COMPILED BY JULIUS KYAMANYWA