The CASE project has successfully helped in countering deforestation in Rwanda, by introducing more efficient stoves as well as efficient techniques for producing charcoal, affecting approximately 145,000 people.
Deforestation is a huge environmental issue in all East-African countries. Having lost more than 25% of its forests over the past 40 years, Rwanda is no exception. 96 % of Rwandans still depend on wood for domestic energy – the alternatives being either unreliable or unaffordable – and the demand for land and the degradation of natural resources will only increase. This emphasizes the importance of countering deforestation and finding sustainable solutions to the energy needs of the population.
The main driver behind the deforestation is the use of firewood and especially charcoal for cooking in urban areas. The charcoal is often produced in rural areas far from where it is sold. The CASE project has, first of all, attempted to reduce the demand for firewood and charcoal, by introducing more efficient stoves. Second, to increase the income of the beneficiaries, the project has helped them to master techniques for producing charcoal.
The project has helped local authorities to assume their vital role and, with previous experience with Village savings and Loan-groups (VSLs), the project lead, Care Rwanda, used these as a platform for selecting project beneficiaries. A research facility has been responsible for selecting stove models as well as training local stove producers, and an NGO, which specialized in charcoal production, has handled that component.
This setup has produced strong results and the technical solutions, adapted to the local context, have created a lasting impact affecting approximately 145,000 people. Today, 7 years later, the stoves introduced in the project are still working, and are used and appreciated. The local charcoal-producers are almost exclusively applying the techniques learnt in the project and local authorities are effectively protecting forest resources in cooperation with the charcoal-producers.