Impact Journalism Day by Sparknews: A better community - No. 9

Banana peels serve as eco-friendly fuel source in Uganda

Organic waste is used to make a mixture that is pressed into a machine to form the briquettes.
Organic waste is used to make a mixture that is pressed into a machine to form the briquettes.PHOTO: DAILY MONITOR

KAMPALA (Uganda) • In Bwaise, a Kampala City suburb, some individuals collect banana (matooke) peels from the surroundings in their community. Ordinarily, this is garbage, but not to members of Peace Development Group.

The peels that have been thrown away are the valuable raw material the group needs to transform their lives and conserve the environment. They are converted into briquettes and used largely as domestic fuel, instead of the all- too-common charcoal.

For the last couple of years, Green Bio Energy (GBE) has engaged communities and taught them to make briquettes.

This conservation journey began in 2011 when French nationals Vincent Kienzler and Alexandre Laure acted on their passion to tackle deforestation and climate change. They wanted to have a substitute for firewood and charcoal, which have disastrous effects on the environment, and came up with the idea of producing briquettes.

The National Environment Management Authority warned in its State of the Environment for Uganda 2008 report that if deforestation continued at the present rate, Uganda would have lost all its forested land by 2050.

 

The founders of GBE believe that replacing wood as fuel will significantly tackle the deforestation issue. Currently, the company produces and distributes briquettes made of organic waste and residue to a wider market at an affordable cost.

Briquettes are denser, hence offering a more intense form of energy than firewood. However, despite this advantage, the wider population still needs to be made aware of this alternative fuel.

GBE deputy managing director David Gerald believes penetrating communities to create awareness will go a long way towards spreading the use of briquettes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 25, 2016, with the headline 'Banana peels serve as eco-friendly fuel source in Uganda'. Print Edition | Subscribe