Charcoal Briquette Training for KBAC Groups-Skills for better production

If you have visited Kasese to see some of the BMS Activities in this area you will be told about Charcoal briquette making in some of Kasese Baptist Churches. We currently have 3 churches in Kasese that are fully running this project since July 2013 with a view of creating jobs for its members as well as reducing deforestation in the neighboring communities. The choices for charcoal briquettes was also because they burn with a blue flame and have higher boiler efficiency than wood and ordinary charcoal, are cheaper and affordable than traditional charcoal among other reasons.

At the beginning of this year, conversations were made at BMS World Mission, Didcot, with Climate Stewards about the possibility of a measure of the benefits of our environmental projects in Kasese.

In conversation with Caroline Pomeroy, of Climate Stewards, a suggestion was agreed for her to visit Kasese in April 2018 to look at the various environmental impact programmes Isaiah  Thembo (BMS Supported Partner Worker(SPW) with Kasese Baptist Association of Churches Development Committee(KBAC DC) was involved with.

I traveled with Carol Pomeroy to Kasese in April 2018 and she observed the whole process of making Charcoal briquettes at Kalehe Baptist Church. They used agricultural waste (maize husks, grasses, maize stems, banana fibre, and mango seeds) and burned them at high temperature in an enclosed drum, sealed with mud, to create the char. This then was pounded and sieved, mixed with pounded eucalyptus leaves (for scent and oils), dust from anthills – to make clay which would stick them together, adding some water to make a black paste that would be pressed through a machine with three tubes to produce small thin black pastry sticks that would be dried under room temperature to make the final briquette.

They would sell a basin of briquettes for 7,000 (equivalent amount of charcoal would cost 10,000). Four (4) women would spend a few hours (say 4-5 hours) once a week to create a maximum of 3 basins of briquettes. If they each needed 2 basins per week, this would not make much of an impact on their fuel needs. And if they sold them there would be even less left for themselves. Any sales would go to the common fund, so act as a form of savings.

The current press, which made 3 tubes of thin sticks, was very small and slow. If they had a bigger one they could make more and faster and hence produce enough briquettes to supply their own needs (and thus be rewarded for their labour) and selling the surplus.

Caroline suggested that Isaiah Thembo and myself would visit ARocha Uganda to see their larger briquette-making press, improved cook stoves (clay and metal), fireless cookers, and water filters (which may be appropriate for use in conjunction with water harvesting/storage at other locations).

One representative was selected from the 3 churches in Kasese already involved with Charcoal briquettes to attend a refresher course at ARocha Uganda in Kampala on 13th July 2018. The training  aimed at building capacities of the representatives from these charcoal briquette groups to acquire the necessary skills and produce improved high quality briquettes that fetch high monetary values thus improving house hold income.

The training was successful as it equipped the participants with the appropriate technical skills and exposure to appropriate technologies that enhance charcoal briquette production from locally generated materials like banana wastes, dry leaves, grass, charcoal dust, fruit dry leaves among other agricultural wastes and their marketability.

Isaiah Thembo who led the team of the participants from Kasese was very appreciative for the refresher course in carbonized Charcoal briquettes making and offered to extend this knowledge acquired from the training to the other group members in KBAC, because all of these areas need energy – saving technology that can help conserve the environment as well as employing more people and this perfectly fits within the renewable energy policy for 2007-2017(still in force) which seeks to increase the use of modern renewable energy, from 4% to 61% of the total energy consumption by the year 2017.

I would like to thank BMS World Mission for finding the money to support a team of 4 to come from Kasese to Kampala and looking after them for two days while in Kampala to attend this refresher course. Many more thanks go to Caroline Pomeroy who provided a contact for Arocha Uganda and for the one day free training that was offered by Arocha Uganda.

We will need to continue praying for the 3 charcoal briquette making groups at Kalehe, Acholi Quarters and Kaminyawandi churches, as the planned outcome is increased productivity leading to increased individual and group incomes, this will require them to move away from their current briquette making machine that produces 3 small sticks to one that produces 32 sticks at once. The cost of the machine is anticipated to range from GBP200-210.