First Steps in Alternative Energy for the Rwandan Virungas

Due to the outstanding work being done in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by the Congolese Wildlife Authority, (ICCN), in alternative energy initiatives, a few conservation partners in Rwanda have followed suit and have taken the first steps to replace charcoal with another viable alternative…fuel briquettes.

Recently, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in collaboration with Art of Conservation and ICCN offered a two-day training session in Musanze Town near Volcanoes National Park. A press release will be issued shortly, but, in the meantime, I wanted to share a few photographs by photographer Molly Feltner of this very exciting initiative.

The champions, ICCN’s Jean Bosco Bichamakara, Immaculee Uwimana, and MGVP’s John Huston made it all happen for the introduction of fuel briquettes and the pressing machine. Bravo!

AoC’s Innocent helps Jean Bosco with translations. Swahili, French, Kinyarwanda, and a little English are all being thrown around as local community members listen and discuss this new concept on Day 1.

Eric, AoC’s art teacher, helps another trainee crushing recycled materials in water. This mixture will be added to sawdust and other organic compost material.

Let the pressing begin. My friends, categorized as Rwanda’s historically marginalized people, are eager to get out of the charcoal business and begin making briquettes for their own use as well as to sell.

Beautiful briquettes!

There is very positive energy amongst our group as we all pose for a photo at the end of the training.

Which one would you choose…fuel briquettes or charcoal?

Please stay tuned for the forthcoming press release to learn the benefits briquette making will bring to local communities, the forest, and the wildlife.

Again, much gratitude and appreciation for the work of Jean Bosco Bichamakara and all at ICCN.

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  1. Gerry Batonda
    Posted May 11, 2010 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I am residing in Kasese District, Western Uganda. Here ordinary people are facing problem of getting firewood and yet, there is so much agricultural and household waste that can be easily converted in alternative energy such as Briquettes. We have read the wonderful work of alternative energy both for conservation and health protection in Rwanda and neighboring Dr Congo Virunga. We desperately need to start a similar program to save the forest, protect wildlife of Queen Elizabeth National park as well use health alternation energy source We like to get your Briquette press and training. We would welcome ways we can learn from you and get access to your technology.

    Thanks. Gerry Batonda

  2. Posted May 15, 2010 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Good to hear from you Gerry – sorry for my delay. Jean Bosco Bichamakara is the trainer we brought over from ICCN and he is excellent. Please contact him and see if you can arrange a meeting. I will write an email to him now to ask him to look out for your email. You are welcome to visit the family involved in the briquette making located in Musanze District, Rwanda. We would be happy to take you there and discuss the challenges and progress. Please stay in touch and good luck. We need to work together on this!

    [email protected]

  3. Gerry Batonda
    Posted September 29, 2010 at 4:09 am | Permalink

    Hello [email protected]

    Dear Jean Bosco
    Thank you for your reply. I am very keen to meet Mr Jean Bosco Bichamakara, the trainer. I do hope he can reply to this email and we see the way forward.

    Thank you once again.

    Gerry Batonda

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  1. […] of national parks where mountain gorillas live. The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) and Art of Conservation, have partnered together to introduce the new alternative fuel technology–fuel briquettes […]

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