Chiwoko School is regularly visited by our education team and taught about the sustainable alternatives to everyday practices that can benefit the environment of Malawi. It obviously made an impact as they were regularly making fuel briquettes, a sustainable alternative to charcoal and firewood, and were doing it so well that we decided to donate a briquette presser to make their efforts much more efficient. Previously only able to make one at a time, the new presser now enables them to make 12 at a time! Volunteer Katherine Blakey went out with our team for the handover during her stay with us and saw how great this was for the school and how pleased they were that their hard work was being recognised. Read her blog here:
Whilst volunteering at the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre I got the opportunity to go with the education team on an outreach project. I went out with Nebart and Frank who had previously been to visit the school to do some education. Whilst visiting the school previously they had seen that briquettes were being made but through a difficult and time consuming method. As the school was actively making an effort to use the briquettes, the team at LWT decided to help them by donating a briquette presser with which they can use to make twelve briquettes at a time reasonably quickly.
Briquettes are a great source of energy for the people here in Malawi. Deforestation is a huge problem and the cutting down of trees for firewood is one of the main causes. Briquettes are an alternative option that can still generate income through making and selling, and also a good way of using what resources are available to do everyday tasks such as cooking. Briquettes are also much better for human health as they generate little to almost no emissions.
The briquettes are made using waste paper, water and sawdust. You take one part paper, to three parts sawdust and add some water. You then pound this together to make a mixture and then add to the briquette presser. The then compacts the briquettes and pushes the water out. The briquettes are removed and then left to dry for twenty four hours.
Chiwoko Primary School had been using plastic pots to make their briquettes, and whilst taking much longer they also only made one at a time. With no holes in the pots, the water could not drain and the briquettes were not as compact. Whilst out with the team, we showed the children and teachers how to use the briquette presser and they then got to see the finished product. Frank and Nebart also told them how they can take the briquettes home to their families and get more people using them this way. They promised to go back and visit the school to see how the project is getting on in the future and hope to see many of the children and their families using and selling the briquettes. It was great to see them so happy and appreciative for something so simple, and then they finished with a song and dance for us.