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Energy-saving cooking stoves improving women’s lives in Bria

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MARIA KABATANYA

Bria, Central African Republic – Peacekeepers from the MINUSCA Rwanda Contingent have constructed hundreds of cooking stoves for communities in Bria – to help improve the quality of life and create livelihoods for the local population.

Several villages across the localities of Boungou, Ngongoua, Bornou and Gobollo in Haute Kotto prefecture benefited from the initiative – a 3-month Quick Impact Project (QIP) drawn up by the Rwanda Battle Group (RBG) blue helmets deployed to Bria, East of the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui.

Designed to be completed within a period of six months, MINUSCA’s QIPs aim at promoting trust between the local population and the Mission and responding to the urgent needs of communities affected by conflict – through delivering basic social services, supporting mandate implementation to better protect civilians, contributing to national peace and reconciliation processes as well as community security, strengthening national institutions and advancing the return of State authority.

The “Economic cooking stove project to support women in Haute Kotto” has registered over 4,500 direct beneficiaries. It has furthermore provided livelihoods for the local population – community members have been trained in the large-scale production and maintenance of the cooking stoves.

They were handed over to the beneficiaries in a ceremony presided over by the Sector East, Head of Office Imitiaz Hussain and the Rwanda Battle Group Commanding Officer on 27 June 2020. The cooking system was demonstrated by local women and the positive impact of the project on the community was highlighted. Beneficiaries trained in stove repair and in instructing other community members in stove production received certificates.

Sustainability has been at the center of efforts to improve the living conditions of the local population – two of the key project goals have been decreasing the quantity of firewood used for cooking as well as addressing risks faced by women in collecting it. “The project was initiated and implemented to protect the environment and to respond to potential security risks faced by women, such as the risk of rape, when collecting firewood in the forest,” said Rwanda Battle Group Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel L. Uwizeyimana.

The project has changed lifestyles for communities in Bria. Leontine Waki is grateful to the Rwanda Contingent for combining peacekeeping operations with initiatives to positively impact her community’s way of life. “Before this project, we needed a lot of time and a lot of effort to collect firewood. These energy-saving cooking stoves will help us overcome such difficulties as well as improve the hygiene in our kitchens,” she said with satisfaction.

Stove production has also inspired income-generating activities. Batoul Mansour is thriving thanks to the initiative. “I am now employed and have earned enough money to buy two goats and meet my family’s other needs,” she revealed.

The project was financed by MINUSCA to the tune of XAF 19,000,000.