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MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24 Kenya. The stories here come from users.

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Slum dwellers make fuel from waste

05 December 2012, 15:26 Dennis Omido

Kenyans cannot let go any economical chance that may come to their way especially if it is pocket friendly, because of the high living cost.

They come up with modified ways to enable them to survive in an economy that seems to be hard on them.

Women in Mathare slum have invented a remedy for the ever rising fuel costs; “punguza” (reduce) is the new slogan among charcoal dealers and buyers in the region.

“Punguza” is made by mixing plain soil with charcoal dust, and then molded in a tin.

charcoal, waste management, recycling

It is then dried in the sun for some time before it can be used.

Wairimu says, “We are also conserving the environment through waste management.” According to Wairimu, a charcoal dealer, this type of fuel is environment friendly as well as a strategy to manage waste.

Anybody can make “punguza” since the procedure is not complicated.

The main challenge faced during the preparation process is the duration it takes for the "punguza" charcoal to dry, especially during the rainy season.

according to Gladys Makokha, "punguza" is more cost efficient than the normal charcoal.

Charcoal in a 2 kilograms can (gorogoro) is sold at KES 80 and a piece of “punguza” goes for KES 10 -  15.

Two tins of charcoal and two pieces of “punguza” are enough for her cooking for one week.

“I only need a little charcoal to light a jiko, and then I add small pieces of 'punguza' depending on the food that I want to cook,”  explains Makokha.

Thinking that this modification would negatively affect charcoal sellers is a mistake.

Iin fact, it generates more profits than the normal charcoal.

Joan Wairimo, who sells both charcoal and “punguza” says that her business still does well because the charcoal dust she used to throw away charcoal is now useful.

“When you buy a sack of charcoal from a store, you cannot open to see what is either in the middle or at the bottom of the sack. Sometimes you may find like a quarter of the sack is waste,”She says.

She warns that one may end up incurring a huge lose if she sells charcoal only.

Open air food owners have also found “punguza” economical.

Benta Kwamboka says that she uses it to cook githeri, chips, vegetables and ugali in her kiosk and the cost of buying is quite affordable.

This invention has not benefited women only; en have also benefited from "punguza".

David Kariuki sells boiled meat and soup made from the head and legs of a cow.

He buys the meat at Bama Market then he prepares them for his customers.

After the customers have feasted on the meat, Kariuki collects all the bones, dries them in the sun then uses them to cook.

recycled bone, bone for fuel,

“The bones save me a lot of costs. When they are enough, I do not have to buy firewood," Kariuki explains.

By recycling bones, Kariuki also helps conserve the environment.       

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