Mariam Kinde, mother of four, lives at BidiBidi Refugee Settlement, Yumbe, Uganda
The amount of money that Mariam is saving each week from switching to the ECOCA for cooking is significant. She quickly does an estimate calculation for us showing the incredible differences in spending.
Mariam recalls that she used to spend around 10.000 UGX to 15.000 UGX on firewood a week, a cost that has been completely eliminated. Furthermore, she additionally had to give around 10.000 UGX a week for charcoal. She is still sometimes buying charcoal to make fires in the central fireplace of the property for a total of around 5.000 UGX per week.
Apart from these direct expenses for fuel she also had to spend money for charging her phone each time the battery ran low, as charging phones is a business in the refugee settlement that people charge varying amounts for per full charge. Since the ECOCA comes with two USB outlets, Mariam can charge all the familys’ electrical devices directly from the stove.
All in all the expenses saved round up to a maximum of 30.000 UGX which Mariam plans on using for her children in the future to cover school fees or other expenses for her children.
The second largest difference that Mariam notices is the amount of time she saves during a day.
Perviously she had to spend several hours a day to walk and fetch firewood. The area around her home is very scarce on trees because of the high number of people living close together in the surrounding space. Therefore, walks up to 3 hours daily to reach a point where firewood could be collected was normal.
Apart from that, Mariam also notices that the preparation of food using the ECOCA is much faster than cooking over open fire. A whole pot of beans takes no more than 2 hours to be fully cooked which is very fast in her opinion.
The time saved during the day makes it possible for Mariam to attend community meetings with other women and families from the area. They can come together and exchange experiences as well as discuss matters and concerns. Furthermore, she now has more time to spend with her children and friends.
A pressing issue when cooking with charcoal or firewood is the smoke that is released. It can be very dangerous, causing diseases like lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses if a person is exposed to the pollutants for an extended period of time. Mariam notices improved health through switching to the ECOCA because her eyes do not hurt anymore. She describes having allergies and previously her eyes used to water and hurt from the smoke when cooking food for her family.
Apart from that, the entire family notices the improved quality and taste of the food that is prepared using the ECOCA. Her children do not complain about the smoky taste of their morning tea or meals anymore, which previously had been a concern to Mariam.