Since 2015, energy group Engie and Find, the GRET endowment fund dedicated to innovation, have been pooling efforts to provide the poorest Mauritanian households with improved cooking stoves. This initiative makes it possible to combat both fuel poverty and deforestation, while creating a sustainable value chain that can contribute to local economic development.
Fuel wood is the main source of energy for nine out of ten families in Mauritania. In Nouakchott, the poorest quarter of the population’s sole source of fuel is charcoal; this incompressible expenditure represents 25 % of their daily budget. Yet, in this Saharan country – two thirds of which is made up of desert – the demand for fuel wood far exceeds the renewable production capacity of forests, which have almost disappeared. The supply basins for cities are continuing to expand with the over-exploitation that is causing the disappearance of Sahelian forests: charcoal being used in Nouakchott is now also coming from Mali!
In 2015, Find and Engie – which for several years has been developing innovative models to contribute to access for all to sustainable energy and combat fuel poverty – initiated a partnership to define a strategy to implement a quality, energy-effective improved cook stove value chain, providing stoves at affordable prices that are suited to the needs of low-income populations in Mauritania. During the first year, the project conducted detailed analysis of households’ expectations, technical adjustments in a laboratory and tested an initial series of the Fayda stove on the market.
At the end of 2016, Engie renewed its partnership with Find for a further three years, in order to continue developing and training partner distributors, set up a manufacturing workshop and train young apprentices that will be able to access employment in a new “sustainable bioenergy” value chain. The second phase of the project aims to distribute de 8,000 stoves that will make it possible to reduce households’ consumption of charcoal by 25 %, i.e. approximately 1,650 tons of charcoal and 8,000 tons of CO2 avoided per year. It will also enable reduction of the portion of households’ food budget spent on cooking fuel by 25%. At the end of the project, a sustainable offer of improved cook stoves will be provided to 300,000 people who depend on this cooking fuel in Nouakchott and Rosso.
In the long term, the poorest Mauritanian households will have sustainable access to healthier, more cost-effective cooking that generates less environmental impacts.