Ex-Hunter Turns Energy Merchant

Musanze – A historically marginalised woman, who developed the idea of using waste paper to turn them into cooking briquettes, in Nyange Sector, Musanze District, has appealed to local authorities to help her find market for her products.

Musanze – A historically marginalised woman, who developed the idea of using waste paper to turn them into cooking briquettes, in Nyange Sector, Musanze District, has appealed to local authorities to help her find market for her products.

Cecile Nyirabahutu’s innovation was conceived by Art of Conservation, a local NGO, with an aim of encouraging residents living adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park, find alternative energy for cooking instead of illegally felling trees within the park.

“I want to be exemplary to my kinsmen who think they cannot involve in any economic activity. Why should we continue begging, hunting birds for meat, yet we have hands and brains? This has to change,’’ Nyirabahutu spoke proudly before stating her challenges.

Nyirabahutu says that despite the cooking briquettes being efficient, she lacks a market.

Art of Conservation, through Save the Forest initiative, trained local women how to use alternative energy to stop felling of trees for firewood, especially in the Virunga Park, to help protect the environment.  

“I make these materials once a week, I can’t work every day. I have no space to keep them, there is no market yet. All my colleagues abandoned this project because, we buy the materials (sawdust) and collect the used papers from various schools, yet we take long to find customers,’’ she says.

Nyirabahutu, together with her husband, Bernard Bandora, grew up as hunters, gathering food and fruits, and begging from neighbours to survive.

In October, this year, Nyirabahutu was awarded a trophy, bicycle and prize money of Rwf 200,000 during an inter-district competition on innovation.

“I don’t want my children to live the life I lived, they are going to school, I stopped them from hunting. We now have a cow, a house and I teach school children how to make the briquettes,’’ she said.

bonny.mukombozi@newtimes.co.rw

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