Bomigo Island fishmongers sensitised on improved cookstoves

Keta (V/R) Fishmongers and community members of the Bomigo Island in the Keta Municipality in the Volta Region have undergone training on the benefits of using improved cookstoves for fish processing.

The training was part of a day’s sensitisation workshop under the auspices of the Institute for Sustainable Energy and Environmental Solutions (ISEES)’s Department for Community and Ecovillage Development in partnership with the Bomigo Youth and Development Association (BYDA).

It is part of a project dubbed: Improving The Health And Livelihoods Of Women Fish Processors In The Bomigo Community Through Climate Smart Efficient Stove Technologies and it was supported from the Canadian Funds for Local Initiatives (CFLI).

The workshop was aimed at training beneficiaries and community members on the benefits of switching from the traditional cookstoves to improved cookstoves for fish processing.

Mr Lovans Owusu-Takyi, the Director of the ISEES, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said fish processing constitutes the livelihoods of over 160,000 women within the coastal regions of Ghana including the Keta Municipality.

He said: Most of these people use traditional stove technologies including Cut Barrel stoves, mud stoves, the three stone stoves, the chorkor smoker among others and also depended on the mangroves as fuel-wood for smoking and frying fish.

He said the use of traditional cookstoves, open fires and solid fuels (fuelwood/mangroves and charcoal) were the primary means of cooking for nearly three billion people in the developing world, and about 84 per cent of households in Ghana.

Mr Owusu-Takyi said the over-dependence on forest and mangroves for fuel-wood contributes to deforestation, climate change, depletion of the eco-system and poor air quality with associated poor health implications.

The Director said a study by the World Health Organisation notes that, cooking on open fires contributed to 17,000 premature deaths, including 3,000 deaths of children in Ghana each year, mostly caused by air pollution, which is 13 per cent of the country’s disease burden (WHO, 2016).

In addition to this, the inefficient nature of traditional cookstoves mean that a high level of fuel is required, meaning that the local ecosystem is being damaged due to the deforestation of mangroves, he said.

Mr Owusu-Takyi said tackling deforestation was an important issue for Ghana’s future because there has been a 70 per cent reduction in its forest cover in the last 40 years, partially caused by overharvesting for cooking fuels.

He said the project would provide 20 improved Ahotor fish smoking and Morrison fish frying stoves for women fish processors in the Bomigo Island in order to improve their health through reduced smoke emissions and improve their livelihoods as well as reduce fuel-wood consumption.

He said: We believe that by providing efficient cookstoves within the region, whilst providing an awareness and education programme alongside, they can make a huge difference on the lives of local women. This will be in terms of improving their health, improving their livelihoods by reducing the amount of fuel they have to purchase, and improving their surrounding environment.

The improved Ahotor Fish Smoking Oven being promoted is an improved stove technology with about 32 per cent efficiency over the existing chorkor smoker, with reduced smoke emissions and an oil collector that prevents the fish oil from falling into the open fire thereby reducing the levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) to zero making smoked fish healthier for consumption.

The high PAH levels on existing smoked fish causes cancer and other health related challenges that are harmful for human consumption, Mr Owusu-Takyi said.

He said the Ahotor oven provides opportunity for women to gain improved health benefits that helps women to have cleaner environment whiles smoking.

Mr Prosper Kpodzo, the Director of the Fisheries Commission in the Keta Municipality, urged the women of Bomigo community to appreciate the stoves and use them appropriately to ensure hygienic handling of fish and processing for consumption.

He entreated fishermen to adopt proper fishing practices and avoid light fishing that makes fish unwholesome for consumption.

Mrs Marian Tadefa-Kubabom, the Coordinator of the CFLI of the Canadian High Commission, underscored the commitment of the Canadian Government and the people of Canada, to contribute to community development in partnership with local organizations.

She said the CFLI priority areas are climate change mitigation, women empowerment and child rights, adding that High Commission is pleased with its collaboration with the ISEESs and the work being done with the participation of the Bomigo community.

Mrs Tadefa-Kubabom expressed gratitude to the community members for their efforts in the project and urged them to continue to work hard to protect their environment and adopt clean cooking solutions.

She also urged the young entrepreneurs to take the training they have received seriously to promote the deployment of clean cookstoves in the local communities.

Mr Robert Ahiadi, the Unit Committee Chairman, thanked the ISEESs and the Canadian High Commission for their support in the training of the women and the youth in the community.

He gave the assurance that the community leaders would ensure that the women utilize the stoves efficiently to reap the benefits.

The workshop was also used to recognise newly trained youth from the BYDA who have been empowered with technical and entrepreneurial skills in the construction of the improved cookstoves.

Source: Ghana News Agency