Friday, September 7, 2012

Under the headline 'What binds them together', Africa Today magazine publishes an article about the work of Yahaya Ahmed to sell energy saving cooking stoves across the Sahel region of northern Nigeria.

Yahaya AhmedThe article, in the magazine's August/September 2012 edition, is subtitled: 'In some parts of northern Nigeria, "Wonderbox", a low technology cooking stove, is proving to be a miracle tool. It is not only combating desertification and bringing together the Muslim and Christiain communities, it is also saving lives.'  

The article reports how Ahmed was 'especially inspired by an all-African conference he attended in Caux, Switzerland, in 2006, where he heard Cornelio Sommaruga, former head of the International Red Cross, give a powerful speech urging Africans to find African answers to African problems. "You are the ones to solve Africa's problems," rather than relying on aid from West, Sommaruga had said.'

Ahmed was disturbed by the creeping desertificaiton in Kano State, caused by chopping down trees to use for firewood for traditional open air cooking. 

'At that time Ahmed was working as a broadcast journalist for a radio station in Bonn but he was well aware that the encroaching desert was coming to his native Kano State and he returned to Nigeria determined to put his engineering skills to work.'

The article tells how Ahmed and his team developed the Save 80 cooking stove and its accompanying hot food container, the Wonderbox, which use only 20 per cent of the normal quantity of firewood needed to boil water and cook a meal. This means that the trees planted to combat the desert are saved rather than being chopped down for firewood. 

Using Save 80 cooking stove So far, Ahmed and his team have sold over 10,000 Save 80 cooking stoves and Wonderboxes across the region. He hopes to scale this up to a million cooking stoves by 2015 if he can find the necessarsy financial backing. 

Ahmed is particularly encouraged that this is also bringing Christians and Muslims together in a region where there have been violent conflicts over scarce resources. 'Instead, they are fighting their common enemy: the desert,' the article concludes.

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