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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Cooking Without Fuel

By Sheila Ngigi

Ever heard of fireless cooking? That’s right, cooking without fire! Residents of Enkiringiri in Isinya were astounded on learning that one can cook without having to light a fire.
On Thursday, last week, all roads led to Mrs. Grace Tuukuo’s homestead in Enkigirri. A group of 25 ladies had gathered eagerly waiting for the day’s lessons.
All year round, women in Enkigirri are faced with the predicament of lack of firewood. They have to walk many miles to look for firewood or spend considerable amount of money, which is hard to come by, to find fuel for their domestic use. As a result, the mention of a fireless cooker was like music to their ears.
the fireless cooker

The fireless cooker is just a basket woven from reeds and layered with blankets, banana leaves or cloth in the inside. It uses the food’s stored heat to cook it over time. Two cushions are also put on top of the basket covering its mouth completely and this is to ensure no heat escapes from the basket. This is made out of the lining material and should be exactly the width of the basket to seal off the basket leaving no room for heat to escape.
The inside of the basket

Black Polythene wraper used to wrap food to prevent heat loss

The food to cook is first brought to its boiling point using another means; firewood or charcoal, then transfer the food into the fireless cooker.  The food continues to cook slowly and steadily due to the insulation inside (from the blankets or banana leaves stuffed in the blankets) preventing any loss of heat from the cooker.
Ladies take turns to view the cooker

Ladies checking the fireless cooker as facilitator explains

This was an eye opener for the ladies who learnt for the first time how this easy- to- adopt technology could save their money, fuel and time.

The fireless cooker has many advantages which include the following:
It is portable meaning that it and can be carried around easily. Secondly, a fireless cooker can keep food warm for up to 8 hours after it has been heated, and this takes away the need to keep reheating the food after some time. Moreover, watching the stove is unnecessary as it is impossible to burn the food or cause accidents like fires.  Air pollution from smoke is also greatly reduced or health problems related to smoke from firewood and charcoal.

This mode of cooking is sustainable and many development based organizations have been campaigning for its use. One such institution is Practical Action, a close partner of ALIN and REAP East Africa.
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