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Schools in Kenya turn to steam as alternative low-carbon energy fuel source

Six schools in Kenya are beneficiaries of a new innovation that uses steam as a cooking method in a bid to transition to alternative low-carbon energy as a fuel source.

The six schools are in Kwale, Kilifi, Garissa and Nairobi Counties.

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The meko-friendly steam cooking technology is the first of its kind in Africa and uses steam as opposed to the conventional way of using firewood. This is mainly to encourage schools to migrate from over-dependence on firewood as a source of fuel and instead look into renewable energy.

According to Wycliffe Ng’ong’a, Director of Faith Engineering Works, the technology uses a three-component part which includes a steam generator, steam supply line and cooking vessels.

“Conventional cooking methods require you to put a fire under the cooking pot but with the innovation, we use briquettes that heat the water to generate steam. The steam is then dried to increase the temperature and the pressure,” Ng’ong’a says.

The meko-friendly steam cooking technology
The meko-friendly steam cooking technology

In addition, the director says the cooking time of meals in schools has been reduced to over 70 per cent because you can use up to 10 cooking pots at a time.

On the cost of the system, Ng’ong’a points out that it ranges from Ksh 800,000 to Ksh 20 million depending on how many pots you require.

The Zero Carbon Schools is a Green Cooking Program being promoted by the National Council for Nomadic Education in Kenya (NACONEK) and the Ministry of Education to support a transition to alternative low-carbon energy for more than 6000 schools cooking and to support the Kenya School Meals Program that currently feeds more than 2.5 million children.

The “NACONEK Carbon Offset Project” is looking to provide environmentally friendly clean cooking solutions in schools.

The project seeks to introduce various green technologies that can support the reduction of the schools’ carbon footprint within the school.

Meanwhile, the Kenya School Meals Program identifies that part of its strategy toward climate-smart food security and engaging home-grown solutions by boosting the local small-scale farm’s food production and market linkage, is establishing the production and value chain of low-carbon energy to reduce tree-cutting, charcoal production and the excessive use of firewood while assisting community adoption of greener energy solutions for cooking.

The strategy toward reaching Zero Carbon Schools through the program includes the transition to the use of energy-saving Jikos for smaller schools and steam cooking systems for larger schools to reduce carbon emissions as well as provide schools with cleaner kitchens.

The use of localized production of briquettes made by the trees planted boosts local enterprises of both youth and women, supporting schools’ access to affordable low-carbon energy as they transition into other alternatives to cooking.

The use of organic liquid bio-stimulant, locally produced, using a formula of seaweed to increase benefits including increased stress resistance from drought, salinity and other factors, increased maturity rates, promotes rapid growth, improved resistants to some pests, increased biomass, improved soil health and many more values.

Finally, the production of woodlots and green belts using a non-evasive, naturalized tree, highly promoted by World Agroforestry (ICRAF) that has multiple values including rapid growing (6 months 2 meters tall), drought resistant, drives nitrogen into the soil, deep root system to not compete with a shallow water table can be copied and stems replanted, the leaves can be used as protein for livestock, and many more values. The trees create a moisture sink and offset carbon emissions.

In December 2020, Kenya revised its Nationally Determined Contributions to 32 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 subject to the availability of financial support.

This is to be realized through the National Climate Change Action Plan 2018-2022 which has highlighted key sectors that the country considers the greatest emitters of carbon.


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