The month of December was filled with celebrations and for many Ugandan cultures it was a time to bond with family in the spirit of Christmas and good food. But if you dig deeper how are we preparing our food? I had a personal reflection about this. Visiting my grandparents in Kitebi a town in Rubaga, I was ready to embrace the spirit of Christmas and enjoy time with family. As an unspoken culture, food is always cooked the day before Christmas and this was an extravaganza not just any regular meal.
My grandmother a very cheerful muganda loves to make her matooke so for the festivities a saucepan so large 5 children could is used to make the matooke. Because of the large frame of the saucepan a cooking place was improvised with the use of some bricks from previous construction and large pieces of firewood. The big saucepan was then placed on the fire and the cooking begun. As we were still enjoying the cooking I noticed the smoke coming out from the firewood. Mind you this was not my first time to notice this but it was the first time that I was aware of what was actually happening.
A set up of a traditional three stone fire
I turn to my grandmother and ask her with concern, “Grandmother, why don’t we use an improved cookstove to make this food so we are not affected by all this smoke” She looked at me and asked me what an improved cookstove was so I went into detail to explain to her. At the end of my lecture on stoves she talked to me about the culture behind making matooke this way and how it is something that has been passed down from generation to generation.
With this in mind I ask myself a question, how we can be able to both market and explain the usage of the clean cookstoves to people like my grandmother who have become very accustomed to a smoke filled kitchen that she is not willing to change to another alternative. This is not the only reason why people have not adopted improved cookstoves. Many of us have the knowledge about the designing and testing of the stoves but the question I would like to pose today is how do we get people to purchase and use the stoves. Let us ponder on this and share some ideas. Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org