Meet Mame (Grandmother) Nogay Diop, one of the oldest participating members of CREATE!’s programs in Fass Koffe. Mame Nogay spent most of her life cooking over a traditional open fire for her family. This meant long hours collecting wood in the forest and the rest of the day spent preparing and cooking a meal. However, things changed when Mame Nogay and the other community members of Fass Koffe participated in a village-wide improved cookstove training with CREATE!. They had previously learned about the benefits of improved cookstoves, and now they wanted to bring this innovative technology to their kitchens.

Saving Time Every Day

CREATE!’s improved cookstoves are made from free, locally available materials: clay, sand, dry grass, and water. With the assistance of her family, Mame Nogay built two improved cookstoves in her kitchen. Although her daughter-in-law cooks for the family now, Mame Nogay says she notices a big difference. “Since she cooks with the improved cookstove, she no longer spends much time in the kitchen, and we have lunch earlier than before,” Mame Nogay tells us. The improved cookstove heats food faster than an open fire so women can save time in the kitchen. “The improved cookstove is built in a way so that it conserves the heat inside,” She describes. “And animals can’t move the pots.”

improved cookstove

After the cookstoves are built, they are left in the sun to dry before they will be ready for use. As seen above, women often decorate these improved cookstoves in unique and beautiful ways!

Safety in the Kitchen

The improved cookstoves outer protective walls not only conserve the heat inside but also act as a shelter for the flames from children and animals. “There is more security in the community since we use improved cookstoves in our houses,” Mame Nogay tells us. “When we cooked with the three-stone fire, there were many fire risks in the houses and animals would fall on the pots,” She recalls. “Now, the children can enter in the kitchen without any danger.”

Improving the Environment

Not only do improved cookstoves cook food faster and improve security, but they also reduce firewood consumption by 60-70%. Mame Nogay recalls how her family used to use around 10 pieces of wood per day for each meal. Now, they only use four pieces. This also helps women save time because they don’t spend half of their day collecting firewood anymore. In fact, women often save up to four hours per day this way.

With the reduced amount of firewood, women save time and money as well as protect their environment. Mame Nogay explains, “As we have big trees in the site, I sometimes collect a few pieces of dead wood for my daughter-in-law, so she doesn’t need to spend time in the forest.” She adds, “Years before, this site was empty. We must plant trees for our future children because we always use wood for our needs.” Every year during the rainy season, Fass Koffe participates in an annual tree-planting campaign. When the community plants more trees than they use, this helps the village stay lush and green even during the dry season.

improved cookstove

Every year CREATE!‘s partner communities plant over 20,000 trees ranging from fruit trees, nuts, firewood, and live-fences.

Passing the Benefits on to the Next Generation

Mame Nogay’s grandchildren will grow up watching their mother cook over an improved cookstove and will enjoy the benefits of a cleaner and safer kitchen! Once her grandchildren are old enough and have families of their own, they will have their own improved cookstoves in the heart of their homes.

Stories like Mame Nogay’s go to show how deeply people’s lives can be affected through training and empowerment at the village level. This is the kind of success we want for women across all of our partner communities in rural Senegal. Consider helping more women and families like Mame Nogay’s by donating to CREATE! today.