India, Tanzania, Ethiopia
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.