Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Kayanet Women group empowered on production of fireless cookers

By Julyann Mutuku
Kayanet women group from Kitengela Ward in Kajiado County is reaping the benefits of a capacity building training on making fireless cookers. The group of eleven members, 8 women and 3 men were trained by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries under the Home Economics department which works closely with Energia Kenya Network in Kajiado County.
The Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN) is the focal point for Energia Kenya Network activities in Kajiado County through support from Practical Action.
Most of the women had been introduced to fireless cookers and are even using them in their households but now want to be actively involved in its production in order to improve their livelihood. They are enthusiastic about the benefits of the fireless cooker and are seeing a bright future ahead.
Heard of a fireless cooker?
A fireless cooker is a simple basket which uses the vacuum flask technique to cook food. The inside part is insulated with heat retaining materials which are easily available such old clothes or banana leaves.
A Home economics expert holding a fireless cooker basket
The food is first placed on a convectional source of heat such as wood fuel till boiling point then put in the fireless cooker for continued cooking for a given period of time which varies with the type of food. 
The basket keeps the food warm for a longer time saving on fuel that could have been used to re-warm the food.
Monicah Musila a member of Kayanet Women group noted that some of the women have been making a profit of Kshs 1000 per basket by selling the fireless cookers to their neighbours. With training on market awareness creation and best business practice skills she hopes to be able to make ten or more baskets per month.
Similarly, Linah Maiyo, Secretary Kayanet Women group said that the fireless cookers have been beneficial to her household as she has been able to save wood fuel and charcoal. 
It has also made her work easier as she does not have to worry about fire accidents when her children are alone at home. Her husband is also a beneficiary for ‘when he comes home late at night, he gets the food warm and ready to eat’ remarked Linah.
“It would be my joy if Energia Kenya helped us in reaching more households in the ward to enjoy the use of fireless cookers as we do,” said Maiyo.
Fireless cooker making is mostly done by women who can testify to the many benefits, it is however not common in Kajiado county.
Group challenges
The women group is facing a major challenge in marketing since most people in the area hardly know about fireless cookers. In order to address this, Energia Kenya is organizing a Participatory Market System Development (PMSD) training for the group and other energy entrepreneurs in Kajiado County.
Scarcity of production materials like baskets has been a hindrance to the group. Most of the time they have to travel to Ruiru or Thika to purchase materials. The added transport costs at times makes it hard for the members to realize good returns.
Energia aims to address energy, poverty and gender issues in Kenya, while providing strong linkages with relevant institutions and organisations and generating and sharing knowledge and information on gender based issues.
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