Climateinvestmentfunds: A Recipe for Protecting the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Tropical Forests
- With over 10 million inhabitants in Kinshasa, traditional cookstoves in the capital have a very real and direct impact on deforestation in the country.
- A change in the way Kinshasa families cook daily meals holds great potential for reducing emissions from deforestation.
- An initiative is boosting the production and use of more efficient cookstoves in this Congo Basin country.
A year ago, 51-year old grandmother Janine Nyota-Nguburu traded in her traditional cookstove, about the size of a large metal lantern, for an energy-efficient version that she bought just around the corner from her small urban farmhouse in Kinshasa. The ceramic center of Janine’s new cookstove does a better job of harnessing radiant heat and reduces the amount of charcoal she needs to burn to prepare her signature fried beans. This also means a 70-kg bag of charcoal that costs about $20 now lasts her two months instead of two weeks.
But it’s not just the money she’s saving that has her breathing a little easier.
“My kitchen was always too hot, and the smoke from burning so much charcoal over many hours each day would burn our eyes and give us lung problems,” said Janine.
Cooking is now cheaper and safer in Janine’s kitchen, but according to the Congolese Alliance for Improved Cookstoves (ACFCA in French), only about 4% of households in Kinshasa use an energy efficient version. Families either don’t know they exist or they can’t afford one--traditional cookstoves cost about $2, whereas improved cookstoves can cost anywhere between $8 and $70.
With over 10 million people in Kinshasa, traditional cookstoves in the capital have a very real and direct impact on deforestation in the country. It is estimated that 84 percent of all harvested wood in DRC is used for charcoal and firewood. Charcoal is preferred over burning wood because it provides a slower, somewhat cleaner burn. But charcoal production is very wasteful. It takes about 6 kg of wood to produce 1 kg of charcoal, and at every stage of production and transport, more waste occurs. What’s more, fuelwood is usually sourced unsustainably from natural forests, creating vast, degraded areas around Kinshasa and other urban centers.