Cooking Hole and Biochar Training Video

This video trains people to:

  1. Make and use a cooking hole with crop waste (maize stalks and cobs, cassava stems, banana stems and peels, elephant grass, etc.).
  2. Make biochar in the cooking hole.
  3. “Charge” the biochar with urine.
  4. Apply biochar to their crops as a fertilizer.

The cooking hole is a hole about 25x25x25 cm in the center of an open-fire cookstove, often a three-stone cookstove. A pile maize stalks is lit on top. The fire will burn down without tending so the women can do other things, something they cannot do when cooking with wood. When the fire gets low, the embers can be quenched to make biochar.

Biochar is greatly improved when it absorbs nutrients (nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus) from urine. Then the biochar can be used as a free fertilizer to greatly improve crop production.

The cooking hole and biochar have these benefits:

  1. Save women time collecting firewood. Women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa spend and average of 2.1 hours a day collecting firewood, putting themselves at risk of sexual assault and animal attacks.
  2. Reduce smoke exposure since women do not need to tend the fire.
  3. Reduce deforestation.
  4. Mitigate climate change. The use of renewable fuel reduces the carbon dioxide emissions. And using biochar sequesters carbon.

The Catholic Church (through Caritas) in Nigeria, Tanzania and Cameroon are sending the training video to the women leaders in every parish in their countries asking the leaders to share the video throughout their parishes. We hope Caritas in all Sub-Saharan countries will join us. We are also training in Uganda, Kenya and Malawi through Catholic parishes and through farmer and self help group associations.

Training Model for Catholic Parish Women Leaders in Africa

At each diocese, we train all parish women leaders. We train them to:

  1. Make and use cooking holes with crop waste, primarily maize stalks.
  2. Make biochar from the crop waste.
  3. Mix the biochar with urine.
  4. Apply the biochar to the fields to improve crop production.

The parish women leaders promise to return to their parishes to train everyone of all faiths to use cooking holes and to make and apply biochar. They will share this training video with everyone.

To facilitate communication among the parish women leaders, we give each parish woman leader this phone with Whatsapp connectivity. We set up a Whatsapp group chat for the women to easily discuss their Sun24 activities. Most of these women have never had a phone with Internet connectivity.

Gabon: Rock bed training begins in all Catholic dioceses

Gabon has a population of 2 million. Most of the urban population uses gas for cooking while most of the rural population uses wood for cooking. This training is in partnership with the Association des Femmes Catholiques du Gabon.

Uganda: Rock bed training begins in 12 more refugee settlements

Training is beginning in the following settlements: Kyangwali, Bweyali/Kiryandongo, Palabek Gem, Palabek 2, Palorinya, Pasu, Bidibidi, Alere, Oliji, Ayilo1, Ayilo2 and Alua.

Most refugees in developing countries cook with wood over open fires or crude cookstoves. We expect the training in these settlements to be successful. We hope the success will encourage UNHCR to train in every settlement and camp worldwide where refugees cook with wood.

India: Rock bed training begins in Tamil Nadu

India has a population of 1.4 billion. 64% use wood and charcoal for cooking – nearly a billion people. Since India’s Catholic population is very small, Sun24 is partnering with associations of women self-help groups. We are testing this approach in Tamil Nadu.