International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

International Bamboo and Rattan Organization

Home-based Charcoal Production for Women

India, Tanzania, Ethiopia



An innovative, Scalable and Pro-Poor Home cooking-based Charcoal Production Value chain for Women

This project aimed to create an innovative household charcoal production value chain, by using the bamboo charcoal produced as a by-product of daily cooking to generate income for women. As the people typically responsible for cooking  in  households, women were the primary beneficiaries of this project.

The goal of the programme was to develop home-based charcoal production from cooking with firewood into a new livelihood opportunity and sustainable value chain for the economic empowerment of poor rural women. Women from poor rural households in Ethiopia, India and Tanzania were trained to put out fires when they had finished cooking to prevent smouldering, collect household charcoal through the clusters, process it into briquettes through innovative partnership-based enterprises and market the output.

By establishing value chains which use bamboo, rather than more traditional timber, as firewood, the project had the additional benefit of promoting a sustainable and legally harvestable source of biomass which grows locally to communities in Ethiopia, India and Tanzania.

This project contributed in important ways to women’s empowerment. Almost  15,000  poor  rural  women from the three countries directly  benefitted  from  the  grant: five times more than the original target of 3000 women. The  model was  embraced  enthusiastically  by women  as  an  activity  that  is  already  an  intrinsic  part  of  their lives, and which began  to  bring  in  an  additional  income  to  them and  their  families. The  year-round  income  from  household charcoal builds resilience, and many women found that the value of the charcoal and briquettes produced exceeds that of the fuelwood use.

The project is part of longer ongoing work by INBAR to promote bamboo charcoal production among women. The potential of bamboo charcoal is huge: as cooking is usually done twice a day, 365 days a year, by hundreds of millions of households around the world, there is huge potential to rapidly replicate and scale up this process, as a main initiative or side result of ongoing projects.