Hoima social worker uses briquettes to save trees from destruction

Ms Gloria Ngonzebwa sun-dries briquettes as a substitute of charcoal used for cooking at Kikwite Cell in East Division, Hoima City.

The obsession to conserve trees has changed the mindset of some people in Hoima who have now resorted to using renewable energy to avoid adverse effects caused by deforestation.

Meet Ms Gloria Ngonzebwa, a social scientist and resident of Kikwite Cell, East Division, Hoima City advocating for tree conservation and encouraging fellow women to turn to alternative renewable energy for cooking to unchain trees from destruction for charcoal burning in this context.

She grew up in a family that used charcoal for cooking little knowing that one day it would be scarce.

But one day in August 2020, she felt the pinch when, while at her marital home, failed to get any charcoal to prepare a meal for her family despite having the willingness and ability to buy it.

Her regular suppliers were unable to get her any charcoal for it was hard for them to access it, she narrated to Kazi-njema News.

Ms Ngonzebwa’s mindset was later changed when she realised that the scarce supply of charcoal was a result of depletion of forests and trees were at the verge of extinction if people continued felling them for charcoal burning.

 “After failing to get charcoal for three days to prepare food for my family yet I had the money and after calling all my suppliers but in a fiasco, I decided to resort to using paraffin which I mathematically found more expensive. This prompted me to resort to buying briquettes from a local maker in the neighourhood,” she told this website.

“Later, I asked him to teach me how to make briquettes and when I learnt, I started making my own without machine assistance. I stopped using charcoal so I could be counted among people giving trees a chance to live. Trees deserve protection against inhumane murder as we see and hear cruel people do,” she added.

Ms Ngonzebwa is paranoid that whereas there is tree felling for charcoal burning, the fellers do not re-plant to replace those they cut down.

She is also troubled that in the near future, there will be a generation that will be merely told about the historical existence of forests in particular places if all people do not change their attitudes towards protecting trees.

Audio: Ngonzebwa on protecting trees (Runyoro/Rutooro)

Ms Ngonzebwa says although charcoal is needed to catalyse the making of briquettes, so little is a composition with majority being banana or sweet potato peelings and the biggest ingredient being soil.

She says she uses only one charcoal-full paint container for three days to catalyse the burning while using briquettes with the quantity covering all three meals in a day in addition to heating water for bathing.

This is contrary to using sheer charcoal saying one can use a quarter of a crate- a local measurement; to prepare the equivalent meals adding that there is no need to buy sacks of charcoal which accelerates deforestation.

Save for protecting the environment, Ms Ngonzebwa says it is less costly using briquettes compared to buying the already expensive charcoal whose price has hiked due to the already scarce trees brought about by indiscriminate felling.

A sack of charcoal costs Shs50, 000 in Hoima city and it can be used for one month yet one uses Shs43, 200 for buying briquettes that are used for three months preparing the same meals. This greatly saves trees from being cut at the rate they are currently being felled.

Audio: Ngonzebwa on comparison (Runyoro/Rutooro)

Ms Ngonzebwa advises that planting at least a minimum of 10 trees around a homestead should be mandatory for people to preserve the green environment.

This story was published with support from Global Greengrant Fund (GGF)

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