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Learn How AHEAD Brings Sustainable Cooking to Rural Gambia

For Generations, A Campfire Has Been a Cooking Fire in Rural Gambia. With help from AHEAD, however, village women are saving time, labor and resources when they prepare their daily meals.

These women cook with a “rocket stove,” a small circular grill resembling an upside-down Dutch oven with a short, wide tube protruding from its side. Sticks are fed through the tube and ignited. The metal stove contains the fire and sends its heat directly to the pot atop the grill. The food cooks with one-tenth of the fuel needed for an open fire, while the air is free of smoke from fires in dozens of compounds.

AHEAD board member Malcolm Gee says the organization works hard to satisfy demand for the device

“The women love them. They’re excited about them and they think it’s great.”

The stoves are made from sheet metal. AHEAD purchases materials with donations from Alternative Gifts International (AGI), a crowd-funding site for non-profits. The stoves are constructed by local metalwork students and sold to women for $25 on a six-month installment plan.

Isatou brought her stove in SangarjoVillage, The Gambia. She says the device saves time and labor.

“The stove helps me to cook faster than on an open fire,” she says. I also use less wood and there is very little smoke from the fire. The stove helps us reduce air pollution.”

The rocket stove project demonstrates AHEAD’s commitment to working with villagers to enhance traditional ways of life instead of replacing them.

Gee originally thought solar cookers would provide an efficient, sustainable way to prepare food. He tested two styles: a panel cooker (might want to link this to the page on water pasteurization) and a box oven. The village women liked the notion of cooking with the sun because they didn’t need to hunt for fuel. But the stoves quickly proved inadequate.

“The stoves were meant to cook food for a family of four, but Gambian families have about eight to 10 people,” Gee says.

His research on the Internet turned up the rocket stove. (this link is from Humboldt State University in California ).

After Gee tested prototypes in the Gambian, requests flowed in.

Gee introduced another sustainable cooking technique as well: the heat retention oven. The “oven” is simply a container packed with insulating material. A hot pot of rice is placed in the container for a couple hours.

“The rice will continue to cook and will be warm when the stew is done,” Gee says.

Village women use baskets stuffed with banana leaves, newspapers or even rags.

“One woman took a plastic tub that was a couple feet high and used it as her heat retention oven,” Gee says.

Your $250 Provides Rocket Stoves for an Entire Village

AHEAD introduced the rocket stove to five villages in The Gambia as part of its mission to foster sustainable environmental activities, and to cultivate and advance healthy living. (let’s link this to the mission page on the site). Help us expand the device throughout The Gambia and Tanzania. The stove benefits more than those who use it. Reliance on wood for fuel is a major reason the continent risks losing its forests by midcentury. Help AHEAD stem this trend. Supply an entire village with rocket stoves for $250, or buy a stove for a single person for $25

Your Donation Goes To the People AHEAD Serves.

Your contribution is tax-deductible. AHEAD is a 501(c) 3 organization that is recognized in the United States, Tanzania and The Gambia. Your dollars go for programs; only six percent of funding goes to administration and fundraising.

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