Kenyan slum-dwellers benefit from new energy scheme
12 February 2006
Agence France Presse
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006 All reproduction and presentation rights reserved.
NAIROBI, Jan 12, 2006 (AFP) -
An innovative waste-recycling firm has teamed up with residents of Kenya's largest slum to produce a pocket-friendly energy alternative in a bid to create jobs and conserve the environment.
Chardust, an alternative energy company, with the help of Nairobi-based Makina Umoja Usafi na Maendeleo (MUUM), a garbage collection programme, has begun converting waste into an affordable, environmentally sound energy source.
John Njuguna and Canadian ecologist Elsen Karstad founded Chardust in 2000 with the aim of producing a substitute to wood charcoal, the manufacturing of which is illegal in Kenya and contributes to climate change and land degradation.
"We started in a crude way to see how to (convert) waste into chunks that can be used as a source of energy in households," said Njuguna. "But being a new product, it required educating people about its importance."
With the help of a 132,000-dollar (110,000-euro) World Bank grant, a new initiative encourages residents of Kibera, home to roughly a third of Nairobi's three million population, to collect charcoal dust to sell to the company for processing into briquettes.
To ease the dependency on wood-based energy, Chardust and MUUM set up two charcoal dust collection and briquette sale sites in Kibera two months ago and intends to create six more and expand to other areas of the city.
"This project has helped me," said Mary Minayo, 47, who sells briquettes to residents at a kiosk in the slum. "I now have a job and am able to provide for my family comfortably."
Minayo, a mother of five who formerly ran a produce stall, can now rely on a steady monthly salary of 4,000 Kenyan shillings (56 dollars, 46 euros) for her work on the project.
The salvaged charcoal dust is brought to a factory on the outskirts of Nairobi where 70 employees grind the waste with macadamia, coffee, rice husks and sawdust into a mix to form the briquettes that burn longer and cleaner than charcoal.
"They are smoke-, smell- and spark-free," said Martin Murwa, 22, who was among the 80 percent of Kenyans who depend on wood as their primary source of energy.
The lower ash product, sold at a fraction of the cost of charcoal, has taken hold in the Kenyan market, appearing on the shelves of the country's leading supermarket chains, and nets an annual revenue of 11.5 million shillings (161,000 dollars, 133,500 euros).
In addition, a number of poultry farm, hotels, lodges and restaurants buy directly from Chardust, which produces about 7 tonnes of the eco-friendly briquettes each day.
Charcoal production and other industrial uses of wood have shrunk the country's forests by more than 80 percent since the country's won indepedence from Britain in 1963, according to the environment ministry.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
...plus macadamia, coffee, rice husks and sawdust equals a new fuel that is an alternative to deforestation. Armed with $132,000 from the World Bank, a Canadian non-profit is working with a community group to sell these new-fangled briquettes in Kibera. I didn't find the article on the web, so here it is, from Agence France Presse: