Louise is a 30-year-old refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo who was settled in Kyaka II refugee settlement. Back home in the DRC, she was a peasant farmer who was dependent on agriculture to feed her family. Louise fled with her husband due to the rise of conflict and insecurity in her community. “I heard a lot of women being raped and sometimes murdered in their gardens; it became too much and I decided to leave with my husband,” she said.

Louise was settled in Kaborogota zone in Kyaka II refugee settlement and soon began to rebuild her life, including her garden. The main challenge she faced is the limited availability of fuels (firewood, and charcoal) to prepare her food. This predicament did not last long, however.

“I was approached by some refugees who told me that they wanted to build for me an energy-saving stove where I did not have to use a lot of firewood to prepare my food. I accepted and two trainers came to my home and together, we constructed the stove,” she said.

Using soil, couch grass and water, Louise and the two trainers constructed a stove at the outside of her house. “I love this stove because even without firewood or charcoal, I can use plant husks and my food gets ready in time,” Louise added.

The multipurpose nature of the stove is an added advantage noted by Benitah, a refugee woman who had just completed constructing a stove at her home. “Having both parts that use wood and charcoal is very exciting. I cannot wait to start using it,” she said.

Earning an extra income

With funding from the Belgian Development Cooperation (DGD), Oxfam identified 20 refugees and trained them in making energy-saving stoves. The trainers of trainees are refugees that also fled the conflicts in the DRC and settled in Uganda.

"I was informed by a friend that Oxfam was registering refugees to be trained in making energy saving stoves and I thought it would be a good idea to learn a new skill,” Kanyere, a trainer of trainees said. She added, “With the energy-saving stove, I am able to cook with less firewood; which helps to save the environment.”

The trainers of trainees move within Kaborogota zone in Kyaka II refugee settlement, teaching fellow refugees not only the advantages of the energy-saving stoves but also how to construct them.

“I am very glad that I was able to learn how to make these stoves because people in other areas of the settlement can now invite me to construct the stoves for them and through this, I am able to earn some money,” Olivier, a trainer of trainees said.

So far, over 480 households out of the targeted 1,400 households have been trained in making the energy-saving stoves, and they are in use. More and more members of the community are embracing the use of the energy-saving stoves and with more funding, the training can be scaled up to cover Kyaka II settlement.