For quite some time now, Better World Cameroon (BWC) and its Bafut Ecovillage project, have been facing challenges in carrying forward its vision. For the past three years, Cameroon has been going through a rough patch as a result of the current instability in the country; particularly in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon. BWC being a grassroots organization working with rural communities mainly in the North west region, and with its pilot project the Bafut Ecovillage project being located in this area, it has been really challenging advancing our work. Our Bafut Ecovillage vision 2020 which involved transitioning Bafut, a local community in the North West region of Cameroon into Bafut Ecovillage by 2020 has been taken aback in the process.
However, this hasn’t stopped our institution from moving forward with our work, and expanding our horizons as we continue to impact lives and communities. Through our partnership and collaboration with Endress+Hauser and CEIBA (a foreign based partner and local NGO respectively), we are able to expand our concepts of “Permaculture and Ecovillage Development” in the West region of Cameroon, through a project called “Permaculture Bandrefam”. The foundation for this project is applied design and community development through microcredit, water supply, tourism, sustainable agriculture, education and livelihoods.
To this effect, we have expanded the scope of our Africa Kitchen Revolution project which we started with the help of our volunteer expert from Germany, Elke Cole in 2014; by building our first ‘rocket cook stove, onsite at “Permaculture Bandrefam. The aim of our Kitchen Revolution project is for women to support women, create work opportunities and save forests. Throughout rural areas in Cameroon, 98% of the population uses mainly wood, charcoal and saw dust for cooking. The cooking culture involves using large pots on a three stone fire place. This process not only requires considerable amounts of wood but equally causes heavy smoke pollution in the kitchen which in turn causes health issues to women.
Through our rocket stove project, we believe that women can take charge of changing their cooking spaces, to best suit their needs by learning as women groups; how to build their own ‘rocket’ stoves using simple and local materials supporting each other through the process.
So far, we have been able to train more than 18 women groups and over 200 women on how to build these stoves. We equally empowered them on how they could use this initiative to empower other women and equally as an income generating activity. The idea is to train as many women groups as possible who go on to become trainers of trainers and in return train other women in a continuous cycle.
We have as of now, successfully built three rocket stoves in the West region and have trained our first group of women. We look forward to many more success stories on this new journey.
Koh Crystel B.