We’ve all sat in training sessions and listened to hours of chat, only afterwards realising that we can remember little apart from the random jumper the trainer was wearing or the embarrassed face pulled over a verbal mistake. So, we should all try and remember this good advice from Bosco, our partner in Burundi – ‘I forget what I hear, but not what I see…’
Thanks to Pete Harrison, currently out in Burundi, we’ve got a colourful update of what’s going on…
Ensuring that our work progresses smoothly and bears tangible fruit are Majembere Desiré and Bosco, our two contacts at Diocese of Matana (a local partner of Tearfund). Desiré leads the Planning and Development Department at the Diocese, while also studying part-time for a Masters in Kenya. Bosco, who previously worked with Tearfund between 2002 and 2008, leads the practical side of the three projects that we’ve been involvement in: Kitchen Gardens, Fuel Efficient Stoves and a Nutrition Project. He ensures the continuation of the projects through delivering effective training and inspiring speeches to community members gathered where project work is being completed.
High quality vegetables
What do you reckon a sack, a mosquito net, a few bricks and wooden stakes have in common? Amazingly, they’re all that’s needed to create kitchen gardens.
The Kitchen Garden project helps to address problems caused by overpopulation and reliance on the rains. The rapidly growing population of Burundi, now c. 8.5-9 million, has meant an exponential increase in the pressure on land to provide for the subsistence farmers who farm it. Though the land is generally fertile, decreasing plot sizes make providing for large families difficult, while the problem of erosion caused by deforestation adds to the strain.
Kitchen Gardens are a very efficient way of growing high quality vegetables. Covering a circular area 3.5m in diameter, a properly maintained Kitchen Garden can produce 90 cabbages every two months. Furthermore, these cabbages (or other vegetables) can be produced in dry season – the garden needs a little water morning and evening: a feasible task for most families. Families provide the materials for construction, as well as assisting with the build.
Increasing stove efficiency by 800%
Where did the idea come from? Fuel Efficient Stoves find their origins in the Sudan, where deployed Rwandan soldiers adopted the method in order to save wood. When the soldiers returned home, they brought the innovation with them, and it was in Rwanda that our partner Desiré spotted the potential impact of the innovation in rural Burundi. A team of Rwandan trainers were brought over to share their expertise in late 2012, and in January 2013, the Fuel Efficient Stove Project was born.
The first photo shows the traditional stoves and the photo on the right shows the new fuel efficient model. Simple, yet so effective!
Families forsaking traditional stoves for fuel efficient ones tend to make an 800% efficiency gain. As less heat is lost, cooking usually takes half the time it did previously, and the amount of wood previously needed for one day will now last for four. Many families do not grow sufficient wood on their land, and have to buy it – so there’s a massive cost reduction for the family. Further benefits include: an upright cooking position, the ability to cook meals with minimal supervision (even overnight) and a reduced safety risk to children.
All the materials required to build a Fuel Efficient Stove are available locally. Strong clay bricks are made for the rings by mixing clay, grass, sawdust and sand. These are surrounding by an insulating layer of sand that assists with the retention of heat. The structure of the stove is made of mud bricks, using mud as cement, and is sometimes covered with a layer of clay or cement once dry. Families provide these materials themselves, with the clay bricks usually made by groups or associations working together then dividing the bricks made amongst contributors.
Bosco’s training session
Our third project is all around nutrition…
The two parts to this project are soy flour distribution for porridge-making, and workshops given to attending parents – mostly mothers – on subjects such a hygiene, sanitation and family planning.
The porridge is composed of maize flour, soya flour, wheat flour, ground peanuts, sugar, and palm oil. These ingredients include fats, carbohydrates and proteins, meaning that children on the programme receive balanced nourishment.
Our partner Bosco delivers energetic training sessions, the first of which was a practical porridge-making demonstration. ‘I forget what I hear, but not what I see’, he says – Bosco teaches these basic but essential lessons very effectively. Mothers quizzed in later weeks on topics covered have displayed a strong understanding.
Six stages of making soya porridge
So there you have it. Depending on the ratio between skimming and reading in your skim-reading, you could well be feeling informed. To summarise in the style of a mildly twee action film trailer:
– ICS TEARFUND –
– BURUNDI –
– SIX VOLUNTEERS –
– SEVENTY DAYS –
– THREE PROJECTS –