- A sack of charcoal goes for Shs 20,000 in the camp
- South Sudanese refugees have turned to making Briquettes to replace use of firewood and charcoal in order to save the trees in the settlement camps
Arua- Every morning at 6:30 am, Ms Jesca Evalyne, 28, wakes up to start looking for firewood in the forests for preparing meals for her three children she is taking care off in the settlement camp.
She has on some occasions survived from snake bites several times while in the bush looking for firewood as she cannot afford to leave her children stay hungry. She returns home with some bundles of firewood while she is already tired.
Since she fled from Morobo County last year, life has not been easy because she cannot afford to buy a sack of charcoal in the camp. The firewood she gets, does not take long to burn, so the next day, she has to get to the bush again.
“Life has not been easy for me and even other women to always wake up early and set to the bush to look for firewood. Snake bites are common here when you are looking for firewood. When I realized that buying charcoal was becoming expensive and is discouraged in the camp, we decided to form a group to learn how to make briquettes,” she said.
“For Briquettes, you do not need to tender it frequently unlike firewood which takes time and hectic to tender to cook food,” she added.
“We have to look for wastes like dry grass, cassava peels, in order to make the Briquettes which we have now been able to make after a short training. I want to become a champion for saving the environment in the camp,” Ms Jesca said.
The youth groups at Imvepi settlement in Arua district, are being supported by OXFAM Uganda. In the camp, most areas have remained bare as a result of depletion of the natural forests for firewood, charcoal and poles for construction of temporary shelters.
“We sell the small size Briquettes at Shs 1000, 2000 and 5000. The money we get from it is saved and some we use for buying food, clothes and pay medical bills,” she added.
UNHCR 1996 Environmental Guidelines indicate that refugee activities such as uncontrolled fuelwood collection, poaching, and over-use of limited water supplies, add pressure to ecosystems in many regions, including some unique areas set aside by local governments as parks, reserves or even World Heritage Sites.