IRC Taps Alternative Fuel for Displaced Kenyans
Noigam is located in the western town of Kitale, where the IRC is focusing its relief efforts. Firewood is essential in the camps for cooking staples such as beans and maize.
The IRC has collected and distributed nearly 100 tons of firewood by truck in Kitale’s camps, but this is expensive, time-consuming and bad for the environment, said Cat Jones of the IRC emergency response team. The wood is also beginning to run out.
As an alternative, the IRC has organized teams to collect cow dung that is then taken to two designated areas in the camp where it is sun-dried and made into fuel.
“This reduces the demand for firewood while also lowering the risk of disease spread from cow dung scattered all over the camp,” Jones said. “We have encouraged the community to keep all the cows in one corner of the camp where their dung may be collected.”
The dung is then burnt in fuel-efficient stoves.
“We have provided the material and organized daily classes in which the camp’s women are being taught to make the stoves from mud and water,” Jones said. “So far at least 40 stoves have sprung up all over the camp. Women report that they use much less fuel with the stoves.”
The IRC has delivered aid to the displaced in Noigam and elsewhere since the start crisis was sparked by the disputed election results. President Mwai Kibaki was declared the election winner but supporters of opposition leader Raila Odinga claimed the vote was rigged. On February 28, Kibaki and Odinga signed a power-sharing agreement which it is hoped will end the crisis.
“The displaced want to return home but they are nervous about their security,” she said. “There is still a lot of mistrust and the government and local communities are trying to rebuild confidence among rival groups. We don’t know how quickly this will happen. In the meantime, we will continue to help the displaced here.”