Tag Archives: alternative cooking fuel technology

Cecile Provides Trainings For Community Members

From Innocent
From Innocent

Since 2009, I have worked closely with our briquette producer partner Cecile Nyirabahutu. With trainings at Rumangabo in DRC to Legacy Foundation’s briquette network conference in Tanzania, Cecile and I have learned a lot about alternative cooking fuel technologies. Art of Conservation in turn then helped Cecile set up her own income-generating business called Save the Forests Briquette Initiative. As you travel along the Kinigi road to park headquarters you’ll find Cecile and her family making and selling briquettes.

Cecile, at the far left, shares with community members her amazing story on how she started making and selling briquettes to improve her livelihood.

As Art of Conservation’s concentrated support toward Save the Forests Briquette Initiative winds down, we have no doubt Cecile can continue as well as train other communities bordering Volcanoes National Park. Recently, we helped Cecile put together a day of community trainings at her workshop. Trainings were both in the morning and afternoon.

Trainees are so impressed at Cecile’s speed in cooking a pot of rice with briquettes!

The trainees were full of questions in which Cecile responded to in detail. Cecile then taught them about her mixture she has mastered for the briquettes. Once she finished providing a demonstration at the big wooden press she insisted everyone else take turns and try it themselves.

Trainee Jean De Dieu Nyabyenda, pictured at the far right, has already acquired a briquette press from Art of Conservation and is ready to start a briquette project in his community.

After learning from Cecile, Jean De Dieu Nyabyenda from Susa Community in Musanze District is determined to start a briquette project in his community. During my recent conversation with Jean, I asked him what his most important need was for him to start his own briquette workshop and he said he needed a press. This morning he came to our office and received a press as a donation from Art of Conservation.

Consolee Nyirabatangana, a president of a cooperative called Igisubizo, smiles as she and others produce their first briquettes.

A participant named Pastor Twizerimana Eliyezeri from Shingiro Environmental Cooperative said he thinks his cooperative can make and sell briquettes in addition to its usual activities. Likewise, let’s hope all the community briquette training participants will practice the great lessons taught by Cecile and together save Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park rain forest and improve the local population’s livelihoods.

Move Away From Charcoal!

From Innocent
From Innocent

In addition to AoC’s education programs, I have been working closely with Cecile – our Save the Forests Briquette Initiative briquette producer partner. So no doubt during AoC’s recent End-of-the-Year Parent As Partners Open Houses I took the opportunity to grab the attention of local community members and tell them more about alternative cooking fuel.

Cecile tells AoC graduates, parents and/or guardians, and local leaders at Nyange school why and how she makes briquettes.

Our audience started collecting very good questions. Because of time constraints I realize Cecile won’t be able to answer all the questions so I kindly ask our everyone to keep the questions and some time go at Cecile’s briquette workshop for more responses.

Here is Cecile demonstrating how quickly 3 briquettes can produce enough heat – and very quickly – to our AoC graduates, parents and/or guardians, and local leaders at Rushubi school.

AoC wants to promote and celebrate Cecile’s great work, and guess what? From these demonstrations, Jean Claude, our hired driver for the day, is a new cutsomer and bought a sack of briquettes and Pastor Gabriel Rutikanga from Musanze District invited Cecile to do a 30 minute briquette demonstration during a forthcoming district meeting that will gather about a hundred district tycoons on December 20. Who knows… perhaps some of them will become Cecile’s briquette customers.

More soon.

Cecile, a Smart Movie Star! Her Commitment to Protecting the Environment While Providing for her Family

Hi. This is Innocent.
I invite you to join me on a quick safari as Kwetu Film Institute documents Cecile and the Save The Forests Briquette Initiative. As Art of Conservation’s alternative fuel technology consultant, I have formed a close relationship with our briquette producer partner Cecile and her family. When film makers from the Kwetu Film Institute based in Kigali approached Cecile with their request to document our income generating initiative plus rather intimate details about her life past and present, Cecile immediately called me and asked for my counsel.

Eric, from Kwetu Film Institute, interviews me on how Art of Conservation developed Save The Forests Briquette Initiative and chose Cecile to be a partner. Briquettes dry on the table behind me.

The film crew asked Cecile and her family to go about their daily business. Daily business includes mucking the cow and calf shed, milking the cow, feeding the chickens, feeding the family, shucking corn, fetching water, cleaning the compound, and of course… making and selling briquettes.

Jacques Rutabingwa and his team of students and individuals from partnering organizations prepare to document Cecile and her family mixing organic waste material as the base for briquettes.

From here, I arranged for the film crew to move onto other locations. After a 20 minute drive, we arrived at Cecile’s former village, Ninda. It was so cool, touching, and amazing to see her friends approach and gather around Cecile and the visitors. I hope the crew was able to capture on film the feeling of reverence that the village holds for Cecile. And Cecile is forever gracious and never forgets the people she has known for so many years.

Fun and Exciting! Cecile chooses to sit on a rock which used to be her favorite seat in the backyard of her former house and continues with the interview.

After saying goodbye to the Ninda community, we moved to the local carpentry market in Kinigi Town where Cecile was filmed collecting sawdust and putting it into a big plastic sack. Then she placed the heavy sack on top of her head and began her two mile walk home.

Cecile collects sawdust for the briquette mixture from local carpenters in Kinigi Town.

Before the day was over, we also met with the sector executive secretary who granted an interview. I will keep you posted on the developments of the documentary. We are told it may be presented in Kigali sometime in July. Then the crew takes the film along with other films to different provinces in Rwanda and shows them in the stadiums.

More soon.

Making Briquettes = Making Money

Happy Holidays! Innocent here with my last blog of 2011. At AoC, when the year is reaching its end and our students are on vacation, my team members and I tend to office business, research, and even taking it a bit easy. I also take more time with Cecile and her family, our Save The Forests Briquette Initiative partner, discussing topics that we cover with our students in the classrooms. Realistically speaking, briquette-making requires teamwork. For instance, there has to be someone in charge of pushing down the handle of the press, another person getting the briquettes out of the PVC pipe, and yet another person in charge of taking them to the drying table, etc. That’s why I dedicated my last 2011 discussion with Cecile and her family to teamwork. I also chose this topic because Cecile and AoC achieved a lot this year which couldn’t have happened if we hadn’t worked as a team.

Cecile's daughter Monique as the family's accountant!  Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.  AoC 2011After selling two sacks of briquettes, the family appoints Cecile’s oldest daughter Monica as the family’s treasurer. See Monica counting the money! What trust!

I asked this great family if they value the teamwork spirit that is so prevalent amongst them and they were like yes!

Rwandan Francs earned from briquette income generating initiative.  Art of Conservation 2011With great pleasure, each and every family member is delighted to touch and feel the money earned from making and selling briquettes!

Cecile and her family make briquettes mainly to protect the environment and, of course, to make some money for the family to live on.

Making money by making briquettes.  Art of Conservation 2011.Amazing! 10 notes of 1,000 frw each per 10 family members!

The entire family is quite happy because of this briquette money and they are really committed to make more briquettes and earning more money. I hope this blog will make you all look at the year 2012 we are starting soon with a sense of hope. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year dear readers! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year dear Cecile and your family!

Honored by Visitors With A Pledge of Marketing Support

Honorable Minister François Kanimba’s delegation visits Cecile’s Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.

Innocent here with ongoing good news about our alternative fuel technology initiative. Cecile and the Save The Forests Briquette Initiative keep making headlines – this time with the recent visit from a delegation from the Rwandan Ministry of Trade and Industry led by Honorable Minister François Kanimba. Wow! Cecile couldn’t believe her eyes and ears! What a big honor!

VIP's to Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.  AoC 2011Cecile briefing Minister Kanimba’s delegation including the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Permanent Secretary, the Mayor of Musanze District, and many other VIPs on the background and start up of Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.

It turned out that the Rwandan Ministry of Trade and Industry in collaboration with other institutions including the National Institute of Statistics and the Private Sector Federation recently conducted a survey countrywide on the statistics of small and medium enterprises across all districts of Rwanda. Musanze District, where AoC and Save The Forests Briquette Initiative operate, was ranked second after Kigali City. (Kigali in the capital city of Rwanda.) This survey was part of the program referred as “Hanga Umurimo”, loosely in English, “Create a job”. Given that Musanze District is located in a remote area as compared with Kigali, this countywide ministerial tour of small and medium enterprises started out with Musanze District, and that’s how Cecile and Save The Forests Briquette Initiative was visited the first!

VIP's to Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.  AoC 2011Cecile offering a demonstration at the briquette press to the Honorable Minister’s delegation and journalists.

Cecile and her visitors’ dialogue was quite amazing. As she usually does for all visitors, Cecile explained she was immediately interested in the briquette initiative when Art of Conservation first approached her with the idea and opportunity to train in this new technology. She shares that her main reason of interest was to save Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park rainforest, home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla, and to make some money for her family to live on.

She was definitely ready to leave her former occupation of selling charcoal far behind! Cecile and I both remember those days how Julie always stopped the truck when passing Cecile on the Kinigi Road with the heavy sack of dirty charcoal on her head and would ask Cecile, “What else can we do? We need to find an alternative and get you out of this charcoal trade.”

VIP's to Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.  AoC 2011Cecile giving an interview to journalists as she demonstrates to the ministerial delegation how briquettes are very efficient especially when used with the proper stove… this stove, by the way, is given to a new customer for FREE with their first purchase of a sack of briquettes!

Cecile also shared with the inquisitive crowd the challenges of marketing, being her biggest challenge. Minister Kanimba pledged support on that issue through Musanze District leaders. We hope this will enable her to keep up her great work of saving the forests, protecting habitat to the critically endangered mountain gorilla, make MORE money, keep being a role model not only at sector, district, or provincial level, but also at national and international level. Congratulations Cecile!

Central African Republic MP’s Visit Save The Forests Briquette Initiative

Hi. Innocent here again with more exciting news on Cecile and her Save The Forests Briquette Initiative. First of all we needed to address a few repair and construction projects for this community conservation initiative. The top priorities were the following: greenhouse (briquette drying house) repair, cow and calf shed construction and animal husbandry lessons, and construction of a press shed. As you remember, I already briefed you about the second priority, proper housing and care for Cecile’s domesticated animals, in my previous blog.

Press shelter construction and greenhouse repairs at Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.  AoC 2011.The press shed under construction led by carpenter Aburahamu. The briquette drying house is at the right.

Of course Cecile has to take care of all these things for the Save The Forests Briquette Initiative because not only is this small business helping to protect the environment and generate income, but it also attracts many visitors including top government officials.

Musanze Mayor and guests visit Cecile's Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.   AoC 2011The Mayor of Musanze District, Winifride Mpembyemungu, gives a try at the briquette press with Cecile’s instruction.

As Rwandan women are getting more and more famous for their active participation in the country’s development, particularly after the 1994 Genocide, other women from foreign counties, especially African ones, are eager to come to Rwanda to learn from these such women and their work so they can apply the learned lessons to their respective countries. It is in this regard that Cecile and Save The Forests Briquette Initiative was part of the women’s initiatives which were selected to be visited by Members of Parliament Rachel NINGAWONG MALLO and Alima DIARA from the Central African Republic Parliament and Marie Thérèse MUREKATETE and Athanasie GAHONDOGO from the Rwandan Parliament. This delegation was headed by Winifride Mpembyemungu, the Mayor of Musanze District.

Honorable Rachel Ningawongmallo & Alima Diarra from the Central African Republic visit Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.  AoC 2011.Mayor Winifride (left), MPs Athanasie (middle) and Rachel (right) all surprised by Cecile’s briquette mixture!

Inside Cecile's briquette drying house at Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.  AoC 2011.MPs Marie Thérèse and Athanasie inside the briquette green house!

Cecile and her family were extremely excited about this visit and they wish more guests would come as they are always ready for them. More soon.

Cecile’s Cow and Calf Needed a Proper Shelter

Hi, Innocent here again. This time with news about the need for a proper shelter for Cecile’s cow and her calf. I am sure some of you may be asking, “What is the relationship between Cecile’s cow and calf with that of Cecile’s Save The Forests Briquette Initiative and AoC?” The answer to this great question would lie in what AoC does: AoC teaches about conservation and health to the population bordering Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, home to mountain gorillas. AoC also supports local community initiatives including Cecile’s Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.

Construction of Cecile's cow and calf shed.  Art of Conservation 2011.The cow and calf shed while under construction.

Earlier this year, Cecile and her family received a pregnant cow as a gift from the government in a program referred to as One Cow Per Poor Family. It is true that Cecile and her entire family were extremely happy about this tremendous gift but they did not have adequate animal husbandry knowledge, money to pay for local veterinarian services, nor proper housing for her expectant cow.

Construction of Cecile's cow and calf shed.  Art of Conservation 2011.Cecile checks on the shed which is almost completed. Only eating troughs need to be added.

Obviously, Cecile’s partnership with AoC stands on the Save The Forests Briquette Initiative. However, the fact that her new cow and calf had no shed and there was lots of waste generated by them which made Cecile’s living arrangement very unsanitary- even reaching her neighbors and causing conflict amongst themselves. Everyone was frustrated, but Cecile’s limited means could not allow her to do anything about it. The mismanaged waste was additionally defeating AoC’s “Staying Healthy” campaign. This combination of factors led AoC to ask Dr. Noel and Mailis from MGVP to assess the situation and receive some expert advice. The vets noted that the main problems were lack of shelter and poor husbandry. As a result, AoC took Dr. Noel and Mailis’ suggestion of first of all building proper sheltering for the cow and calf and that’s why Cecile and her family has one now!

Construction of Cecile's cow and calf shed.  Art of Conservation 2011.Bandora, Cecile’s husband, feeding the animals with grass under their newly built shed.

Construction of Cecile's cow and calf shed.  Art of Conservation 2011.Cecile’s cow and calf eating grass from their respective eating troughs.

I’m sure Cecile and her family are quite happy about the shed newly built by AoC. The manure can even be used in the briquette mixture if clients do not mind the smell! It is also my hope Cecile and her family take advantage of Dr. Noel and Mailis’ technical assistance and will continue seeking it when need be. Thanks a lot Dr. Noel and Mailis for your time and expertise.

Visit Us At Booth 22!

Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation is putting on Mini Expo 2011 starting today, the 10th of November, and running for the next ten days. Our Save The Forests Briquette Initiative is being represented at the expo. This morning we helped Cecile set up a booth which she is sharing with Mao, MGVP’s briquette producer partner. You must pay a small fee to enter the expo which is being held at Ubworoherane Stadium in Musanze District, Northern Province.
Cecile at Mini Expo 2011 at Ubworoherane Stadium in Musanze District.  AoC 2011Save The Forests Briquette Initiative is set up at Booth 22 and as you can see here Cecile is ready to receive visitors and briquette buyers.

Save The Forests Briquette Initiative at Mini Expo 2011.  AoC 2011Cecile, with briquettes and stoves on display, speaks to interested expo attendees.

Cecile with Save The Forests Briquette Initiative at Mini Expo 2011.  Art of Conservation 2011In an effort to deter charcoal production and usage, Cecile encourages local community members to STAMP OUT CHARCOAL AND USE BRIQUETTES!

Go and Share With Your Community Members!

Go and share with your community members!
This is Cecile’s request to our students during her weeklong visits to AoC classes.

Cecile protects the environment by making, selling, and using briquettes. AoC students protect the environment by staying healthy, learning about ecosystems, and much more. “We all need to protect the environment,” Cecile and Innocent, AoC’s Alternative Cooking Fuel Consultant who works very closely with Cecile, exclaim.

Cecile demonstrates. Save The Forests Briquette Initiative.  AoC 2011Cecile and Innocent are prepared to begin a demonstration with AoC students. Stoves, sacks of briquettes, pots, rice, water… all ready to go.

Cecile and Innocent begin by engaging the children in conversations about why we should use briquettes instead of charcoal and firewood.

Children receive a great view of exactly how briquettes work with the stove locally manufactured specifically for this type of cooking fuel.

Cecile demonstrates for Rushubi kids. AoC 2011“Look at how briquettes burn. Beware of the flame!” Cecile tells the kids while they attentively follow her demonstration.

Voila, 15 minutes later rice is cooked to perfection.

Students take a closer look at the briquettes and stoves.  AoC 2011 So curious are the children that they carefully get a closer look to see what is happening. “Oh, my gosh! Rice and water are ready in such a short time!” they confirm.

Well, Cecile and Innocent’s demonstration is over but Cecile sticks around for the next part of the lesson…. studying and then drawing animals living in Volcanoes National Park.
Eric working with Cecile on her pictures.  Art of Conservation 2011“How good is Cecile at drawing!” says Eric. Eric and Cecile concentrating on a drawing of a Forest Buffalo. More from that lesson coming up soon!

Cecile Exhibits Briquette Innovation at 14th International Trade Fair

Hi. This is Innocent with news about Cecile’s participation in Rwanda’s 14th International Trade Fair at the Gikondo Expo Grounds in Kigali.

As members of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF) and their partners were getting ready to host the trade fair in Kigali, Juliette – a representative from Musanze District’s National Women’s Council – gave a phone call to Cecile inviting her to exhibit Save The Forests Briquette Initiative. It is true, Cecile and Team AoC do everything to market Save The Forests Briquette Initiative across Rwanda and particularly in communities that border Volcanoes National Park home to the critically endangered mountain gorilla, but this was a great opportunity for Cecile to reach out to a larger and international audience!

Cecile’s participation in this trade fair was really timely. In hosting this great event, PSF and Rwanda’s National Women’s Council made available sites reserved only for leading women from all over the country and Cecile was chosen among the few.
Cecile/Save The Forests Briquette Inititative at Kigali Expo.  AoC 2011Cecile with another innovator Germaine explaining to a curious man how fuel briquettes work!

During the International Trade Fair, Cecile and her briquette innovation were so sensational that a number of media outlets interviewed her.

Cecile/Save The Forests Briquette Inititative at Kigali Expo.  AoC 2011 3Gisele and a photographer from Rwanda TV covers Cecile and her alternative cooking fuel initiative.

Cecile/Save The Forests Briquette Inititative at Kigali Expo.  AoC 2011 2Cecile has an interview with Bercar Nzabagerageza from Radio Salus (National University of Rwanda radio)!

Cecile also took this great opportunity to learn from other exhibitors particularly those with alternative fuel technology.

Cecile/Save The Forests Briquette Inititative at Kigali Expo.  AoC 2011 4Cecile is excited to learn from Joyeuse from KIAKA (Kanama Artisans’ Cooperative) about solar panels.

During the International Trade Fair, Cecile exhibited her fuel briquette and learned from other innovators from all over the world and had fun, but guess what! This wouldn’t have happened without help from others, so my thanks go to the Government of Rwanda which created this opportunity for innovators like Cecile, thank you Juliette and Germaine from Musanze District for your collaboration and help, and thank you dear readers for your time.