Multi-government partnership improves the living conditions of an impoverished community in Sharpeville

Sharpeville - 200 residents from the impoverished area of Phuma Sibethane informal settlement in Sharpeville received Methanol Cook Stoves recently.

The cleanest energy stoves with a wonder bag were awarded by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD), Sedibeng District Municipality and Emfuleni Local Municipality as part of a joint air quality awareness campaign held at George Thabe Stadium.

Methanol Cook Stoves are alcohol burning stoves used for general cooking services, water heating and even heating of buildings. Methanol is obtained from natural gas and consequently still results in emissions of carbon dioxide whereas conventional biomass gasification stoves convert wood, charcoal and animal waste into a mixture of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane which result in air pollution.

Ward 14 Councillor Siza Rani commended the air quality task team for donating the cook stoves to the community of Phuma Sibethane. Rani said: “As the Councillor in the area, I am overjoyed by the fact that a project of this magnitude and importance is piloted in my ward and in such, showing the government’s commitment to the poor”.

Rani added that it is important for the recipients of the cook stoves and the community in general to note that, what the air quality task team has done for them is of great significance considering that Phuma Sibethane is one of the many communities that live in a heavily air polluted area in the country.

A community member and a beneficiary of the methanol cook stove Mr. Sthembiso Hlatshwayo was thankful for the contribution made to him and his family by the task team.

According to Hlatshwayo, the cook stove is saving him money because habitually he consumes 6 liters of paraffin which cost him 72 Rands at 12 Rands a liter per week and now, since he started using the methanol stove he spends 30 Rands on 2 canisters of methanol per week and saves a whopping 42 Rands.

The overall objective of the air quality campaign is to reduce the reliance on traditional fuel sources and change to a cleaner more efficient energy form which is methanol. Recipients will have to refill the canisters with the energy source once they are exhausted.

Speaking to Aseef Ahmed, the Environmental Management Officer at ELM and he pointed out that, “to guarantee the availability of methanol in the area for refills, 5 cooperatives consisting of 5 entrepreneurs from Phuma Sibethane have been set up and registered with Emfuleni LED. The cooperatives will be the sole providers of the energy source at a fee in the area and a shipment container will be made available for them to work from by LED”.

In closing, Ahmed expressed his excitement by urging residents to switch to cleaner fuels as one strategy for dealing with the problems of the health effects caused by the smoke and other pollutants released in enclosed cooking areas.

He further encouraged the utilization of the cook stoves because methanol provides a higher heat flux with no soot or smoke which means that cooking and water heating can happen faster and pollution free.

By: Chuchi Radebe

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