Published on: Sep 13, 2023
Using electric cooking to combat deforestation or how to build an eCooker?
Some time ago, I was in Burundi with the International Lifeline Fund for the World Food Programme to help with the Energy for Food Security (E4S) Assessment. One of the biggest problems was Burundi's continuous deforestation. Every year the country loses 2% of its forest area. 90% of the wood is used as fuel for cooking. Burundi's growing population is adding to this deforestation pressure.
At the time, I was quite desperate because no real solution to the problem came to mind. Yes, of course, electric cooking would be a solution, but where would the considerable energy needed for this come from and who would be able to afford the expensive electric stoves? The first products that the WFP showed us at that time were not really usable according to our assessment.
A few months ago, we sat down with Luc Estapé from the organization ADES and came back to the topic of electric cooking. The issue of deforestation is also very present in Madagascar, where 97% of the population cooks with wood and coal.
ADES has already achieved a lot here with its local production of energy-saving stoves, but wanted to check whether more was possible. Together with Luc, we discussed how we could approach the complex issue of electric cooking and take a first step together. From the beginning, we wanted to avoid creating a stove that was not really practical. First and foremost, it had to be tailored to the needs of the cooks without, of course, losing the sustainable claim. Whether rice or sweet potatoes, cassava, corn or beef, whatever was to be cooked had to be possible with it.
Trial and error was the order of the day! On behalf of ADES, we designed three prototypes of our "eCooker" and sent them to ADES in Madagascar. Each stove contains its own battery and is charged by solar power, thus functioning completely self-sufficiently. In addition, the stoves contain communication modules so that we can determine exactly how much energy and power is needed for each cooking process. The prototypes thus provide us with the data we need as the basis for a later product design. Over the next few months, the three prototypes will now be tested extensively, analyzing dozens of cooking processes and going through the rigorous testing procedure of the cooks. If the test is successful, we will know how an eCooker has to be built, whether electric cooking is possible in the Malagasy context and how much CO2 can be saved with it.