In his collection of essays about Africa titled The Shadow of the Sun, celebrated Polish foreign correspondent Ryszard Kapuscinski described the daily ritual of women in Senegal in the early 1990s: “Preparing the meal takes a woman the greater part of the day—the whole day, really. She must set out first thing in search of wood for the fire. There are no trees anywhere, the land was deforested long ago, and searching for slivers, splinters, and sticks on the savannah is an onerous and time-consuming task.”
Climate change and the intertwined impacts of deforestation and desertification have long made the daily lives of women in Senegal more difficult, oftentimes requiring the entire day’s efforts to be spent in the preparation of a single meal. CREATE!’s improved cookstoves have not only made preparing the daily meal less time-consuming, but also require less firewood and therefore decreases the rate of deforestation in areas already losing arable ground to erosion and the encroaching desert.
Teningne Youme, 25 years old, of Gagnick Mack, has more time and money now that she has learned how to build two improved cookstoves in her house. “I notice many changes in my life thanks to CREATE!,” she says, “I don’t have to buy firewood because of my cookstoves. With them, I can do many things at the same time because I don’t need to stay in the kitchen to look after the meal. I’m proud of myself that I built two cookstoves in my kitchen. They economize firewood and my time.”
Teningne Youme says that her dream is to build a health center if she has the means because her village is very far from the nearest health services. Now that she has more time in her day and has received training from CREATE! technicians, she feels she has more ability to work. “Women in the village like working. I always wanted to work, so when I met CREATE! I participated in the improved cookstoves, tree planting, cooperative gardening, and poultry programs,” she says. “I thank CREATE! for these opportunities.”