Women from our WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves training programme are not resting their oars, as they remain determined to rewrite the socio-economic future of their peers. As clean cookstove entrepreneurs and ambassadors, they are becoming resolutely visible and making sure their voices are heard in important cycles, especially political spaces. In addition to carrying out educational outreaches , not a few of them have taken it upon themselves to bring the issue of women’s access to clean cooking energy to the front burner in their communities….They are pitching the issue of access to cleans energy vis a vis clean cookstoves advocacy and marketing efforts carried to the very doorsteps of the key decision makers in their communities- husbands, traditional rulers, Local Government Chairmen, Political Office holders, and many others whom they know wield strong decision making influence within and beyond their communities. Their actions are no doubt having influence on Nigerian politics in many ways; and on this note, I cannot but highlight and celebrate the efforts of the following WWCCP’s trainees come clean cookstoves ambassadors:
Mrs. Tabitha Bako: Being a past and still very much an active and aspiring political officer holder, Tabitha was able to reach out to General Simon Katunku Gora (an aspirant seeking to become a Senator representing the Zango Kataf/Jaba Federal Constituency) and got him interested in the cookstove intervention she was championing in her communal sphere of influence. The candidate agreed to support Tabitha by purchasing 40 Happy Clean Cookstoves her. In July 2018, during a one day workshop on Security, Health, Education and Agricultural Skills Acquisition and Development in Southern Kaduna Nigeria (Zango Kataf/Jaba Federal Constituency), organized by Tabitha in collaboration General Simon and which brought together over 150 men and women together, the 40 clean cookstoves purchased by General Simon were presented to 40 widows drawn from the ECWA Widow’s Training School, Samara Kataf, Zango Kataf LGA;
Binta Yahaya: Binta has no doubt positioned herself as a key player in the clean cookstove sector in Nigeria by continuously exploring and expanding her spheres of influence; as exemplified by who she has become today. Prior to participating in the WISE Women’s Clean Cooktoves Training Program (WWCCP), Binta came across as one who is very quiet, unassuming and shy. Well, I would say that portrayal could well be in her best now as Binta has become very visible and vocal in her community as she has unreservedly taken on the cause of educating women across her community in Saminaka (Lere Local Government Area), about the dangers associated with the traditional methods of cooking over open fires. She remains relentless in driving the adoption of ground-breaking alternatives clean cooking technology solutions she was exposed to during the 2017 WWCCP. Inspired by the apparent impact (health, safety, security, environmental, financial) of the clean cookstoves she introduced to women in her community, and the encouragement she received from her husband, Binta designed her own version of a clean cookstove. Hope beamed on her design when she participated in another training – the UNDP GEF Sustainable Fuelwood Management Project’s pilot 4-Day Gender Responsive Clean Cookstove training in Kaduna, which was hosted and facilitated by WISE on behalf of the Ennergy Commission of Nigeria and Centre for Gender Studies (University of Ife). Binta was one of 10 ambassadors from the WWCCP who were brought onboard as participants and mentors. She had the privilege of showcasing her novel design during a session of the training and it caught the attention of Engineer Martins …….., the National Coordinator of the UNDP GEF SFM Project in Nigeria. Engineer Martins engaged Binta in a very engaging discussion and made a promise to her that her stove would be adopted for the second phase of the SFM Project. In the course of their discussion, Binta learned that the Steering Committee of the SFM project had been on the look out for a very strategic location for the siting of a Clean Cookstove Demonstration Center in Kaduna State. Binta ended that ceaseless search as she took on the responsibility of speaking with the highly influential paramount ruler of her community (Saminaka, Lere Local Government Area) about the development. She succeeded in influencing the traditional ruler to donate a suitable and choice piece of land to the GEF UNDP project for the construction of the proposed Clean Cookstove Demonstration Center. This fete encouraged the project to support Binta to conduct a cookstove awareness outreach in Saminaka, which had over 120 members of the community (men, women, youth, representatives of the Local Government), including Sarkin Saminaka (the traditional ruler) and his council of title holders in attendance. Binta was also joined by Rifkatu Bawa Yakubu (one of her peers from the WWCCP), and together they mobilized and sensitized women in the community about their cookstove cause and intervention initiatives. They also selected 30 women as cookstoves sales agent and have so far sold and distributed 232 clean cookstoves out of 300 Happy Cookstoves Binta took delivery of under the outreach she was tasked with. It is also worthy of note that Binta has become actively engaged with the Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cookstove, having come in contact with Precious Onuvae the Market Development Manager of the body whom she met and interacted with during her participation in the 2nd week of training of the pilot WWCCP. That relationship has blossomed as Binta stayed in touch with Precious who has now become one her foremost advisors; having also provided guidance to her on how to go about getting her stove tested by an approved testing center. On March 1st, I received the following chat message from Binta: “Good morning ma, my stove is tested and certified as they sent the result to me this morning. Thank you ma, for everything you have done for me”. Binta went on to forward the email she received from the testing center to me. My joy knew no bounds as I reviewed the 34 paged test result and accompanying photos.
Assibi Hasaan: Assibi is an influential political activist, community mobilizer and change leader based in Sabon Gari, Zaria Local Government Area of Kaduna State. Since participating in the WWCCP, she has influenced many women in her community to make a shift from the traditional method of cooking with firewood and invention charcoal stoves, by introducing them to the clean cookstove products she had become aware of. Having identified that countless women and household in her community cannot afford the cost of even the cheapest cookstove product she deals in as a cookstove entrepreneur, she began exploring various financing options to help them overcome their financial setback. Assibi began identifying financially accomplished individuals and groups, including but not limited to political aspirants, political party she is affiliated with and multipurpose cooperatives to see a need to adopt cleancookstove as a campaign agenda, developmental intervention program/project, and or judicious aid that can be given to the needy to help alleviate their plight. She has succeeded in helping a good number of households benefit from the generosity of some of her political associates who gifted clean cookstoves to them through her. I am also in the know of a proposal she submitted to a political party for the branding of 1000 clean cookstoves to be distributed to indigent women across the political constituency she belongs to. The outcome of the proposal is being awaited with high hopes that it would see the light of day.
Bridget Joseph: Bridget is a member of one of the top-ranking political parties in Nigeria and she currently holds an important political position at the ward level. During the cause of one of her clean cookstove outreaches in her community, she was able to influence a rich relative of hers to purchase 15 clean cookstoves for all the women in their extended family circle. Sometime last year, she also reached out to an incumbent legislator who gave her an assurance that he would purchase 100 Superver clean cookstove, which is one of the brands of clean stoves she was introduced to during the WWCCP and now currently promotes and sells among other brands. Though the promise has not materialized, she is not relenting in following up the opening.
To date, all the participants of the pilot WWCCP and the project team of WISE have continued to work together by individually and collaboratively exploring and leveraging political participation for the advancement of the cause of the WWCCP.