Bio gas has freed children from firewood chores

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Aissatou can have breakfast in the morning and arrive in time at school thanks to the use of the bio gas

In Senegal, due to ongoing desertification, most rural households are facing challenges to get firewood for their daily needs such as cooking food and lighting. Women and children travel long distance, daily to chop wood. To contribute to protecting the environment, a bio gas project was launched in 2007 in Malem ADP in the centre of the country. The project is aimed at improving the living conditions of mostly women and children in rural areas.

"The bio gas that was installed at home is very useful for us. Previously before going to school, mum had to get up early and look around for pieces of wood to heat our breakfast. But today, there is a big change, when she gets up, she ignites the gas and in a few minutes the breakfast is ready. Since then, we're no more late for schoo.l”  Meet Aissatou, a sponsored child and daughter of Mor Talla Touré, one of the farmers’ leaders from Malem ADP. She is talking about the changes that bio gas has produced in the daily life of the family.

To implement this project, World Vision Senegal works with farmers who are recognised as leaders in their area.

Mor Talla has a large family, two wives and several children and also some agricultural workers. He has benefitted from the bio gas project since 2007. The benefits of bio gas for  children and women are well established. The community members do not have enough words to describe the benefits and demonstrate the relevance of the project.

: "Now, women do not go looking for firewood in the bush. Before getting the bio gas at home, there was constantly a huge pile of firewood in my house. 

“As soon as the stock had declined, women and children walked away into the bush to get wood," recalls Mor Talla Touré.

To take full advantage of the benefits of bio gas, Mor Talla also received some facilities such as a bio digester. He gave a contribution of about $ 100.

The bio digester is a mechanism buried two metres deep and equipped with a blender (to be filled with water and cow dung) and a chamber producing, compost and gas. The gas is used to cover the family needs; the compost is used for farming to enrich the soil. The bio digester scheme is completed with a terminal fitted with burners.

According to Mor Talla with his bio digester, the family contributes to the preservation of the environment. His wives have stopped chopping wood in the bush.  It is especially during the Muslim fasting, that Mor Talla appreciates most the usefulness of bio gas. As he must get up early to take the meal at dawn before the sun appears on the horizon, the food can be heated quicker than if they  had to collect and burn firewood.

It is women who most appreciate the arrival of bio gas, because it has made household chores easier.

 Meal preparation is quicker now, as confirmed by Mariama Niang, the first wife of Mor Talla, "The bio gas has brought us many benefits. We have no more problems for cooking. We cook quickly for the family; you do not feel any pain. Before using the bio gas, I have often brought back at home a large amount of firewood. With this chore I had pain everywhere and I often got sick. But today everything has changed. I feel very well. We cannot tell all advantages that the bio gas has brought to my family.

“ We have health, we are clean. The bio gas should be a must for housewives. I wish that a big number of women and families could enjoy it also.  "

Mariama Niang is especially happy for the children who are also freed from this chore.  

“With the bio gas we can rest now. Our children also do not go any more into the bush to fetch wood.During the rainy season they had to amass a large reserve of firewood. Now they no longer do. To use the bio gas to cook lunch and dinner you just need a bucket of cow dung and a bucket of water. Life has become easier," Mariama adds.

Seven years later, the head of the family did not regret the money he has invested to benefit from the project  : "It brought a lot of ease to my wives. One realises when you look at their bodies, and they are in very good health. They had to go themselves into the bush to cut wood and bring it home. In our society, no man is going into the bush to look for  firewood.

In most families that benefited from bio gas, the stakeholders of the project favoured cooking instead of lighting. This allows children at school who have long distances to travel (an average of four kilometres) to have their breakfast on time and not be late to school. As the bio gas is produced by fermenting cow dung, it would require a large amount for lighting and cooking. Communities are lit with torches and oil lamps.

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