Daba Séne, 45, of Keur Daouda, remembers a time when cooking the daily meal for her family of eight was a lengthy process. “When I used to cook with the traditional three-stone fire, the wood would burn up quickly and I’d have to keep adding more,” she says. She’d use about ten pieces of wood to cook one meal. “I used to need five big loads of firewood per year, but now with the improved cookstove, I only use two loads of wood per year.”
In addition, the use of improved cookstoves has made her community safer. “There are no more fire risks in the village since we started using the improved cookstoves,” says Daba. “Before, there were many cases of fire that burned children and our straw huts.” With the improved cookstoves built out of clay, sand, dry grass, and water, however, the fire remains contained within the walls of the stove, keeping the heat inside, beneath the cook pot.
In addition to saving time and money through the use of her improved cookstove, Daba notes that the community garden has also had a significant impact on her life. “The availability of vegetables in the village has improved my family’s diet,” explains Daba. “Before CREATE! partnered with our community, we couldn’t eat fresh vegetables regularly, but now we grow a variety of vegetables in the village and sell them on the weekly market in Guinguineo. My family now consumes vegetables all week long.”
Keur Daouda is one of CREATE!’s newer partner communities, but Daba can already see the value of their accomplishments so far. “CREATE! has united us as a village, and has improved our living conditions,” she says.