2019: £785

Financial and Environmental Sustainability Through Wonderbags

Joshua Malunga (Founder and Programmes Manager) & FydesLestone (Wonderbag Marketing Officer), May 2020.
  1. ORGANISATION BACKGROUND 

Community Forum (COFO) is a not-for-profit organization, which builds community-driven approaches for sustainable development. Our interventions focus on improving the lives of women and girls, enhancing education and vocational skills, climate change intervention, food security, health and nutrition promotion, and HIV/AIDS awareness raising and prevention. It was incorporated in Malawi as not-for-profit Company limited by guarantee in June 2018 the registration number:1011976. 

COFO’s mission is to challenge socio-economic inequalities and assist in navigating the vulnerable populations in Chikwawa district toward self-reliance. The vision of COFO is to build a community where all citizens have the opportunity for a high quality of life, including but not limited to high standards of education, gender equality, health, and employment/entrepreneurship.  

We are trained distributors of the clean-cooking intervention called the Wonderbag a culturally accepted tool endorsed by the International Federation of the Red Cross. 

Objectives  

  1. To provide opportunities for ideas and experiences for promoting literacy to be shared at community level. 
  2. To promote education and training in formal and informal society 
  3. To amplify community awareness on early child marriage, MHM, SRHR, gender, hygiene, HIV and AIDS prevention and behaviour change interventions. 
  4. To promote entrepreneurship among the youth and community groups 
  5. To improve the health of the communities by addressing issues that undermine their good health such as access to health services, SRHR, good nutrition, HIV & AIDS, counselling. 
  6. To challenge the socio-economic inequalities and enable the vulnerable sections of society towards the goal of self-reliance.  
  1. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 

The Wonderbag is a non-electric slow cooker developed for women cooking over open fires.After bringing a pot of food to the boil and placing it in a foam-insulated Wonderbag, the food will continue cooking for up to 12 hours without additional heat. Because the pot spends a fraction of time on the fire or stove, Wonderbag cooking reduces by 70% the amount of wood, charcoal, or other fuels used in the home. This saves hours of time and labor, and improves indoor air quality and overall health. 

Laboratory and field studies in South Africa and Rwanda have demonstrated significant variety of benefits, including reduced energy use, labor saving, and a range of indirect health and environmental benefits and the other cardinal economic benefits of this technology: 

  • 70% less fuel needed to cook
  • 2 tons carbon emissions mitigated
  • 60% less indoor air pollution
  • 1,000 litres cooking water spared
  • 1,300 hours diverted from unpaid labor
  • 10x increase in the income of women living in extreme poverty
  • 5 large trees saved from deforestation, eg. Acacia Senegal

This appliance is largely independent of other technology choices such as stove and fuel type, applicable to the vast majority of staple food production practices, and requires only minimal training for safe and effective adoption into traditional cooking systems. 

For all these reasons, Wonderbag adoption and diffusion should be promoted extensively in developing and middle-income economies, and intensively in very low- income settings where there are serious constraints on labour and fuel resources. To achieve this, Community Forum (COFO) with funding from Friends of Malawi Association (FOMA) is implementing a project called Financial and Environmental Sustainability Through Wonderbags. 

  1. THE PROJECT ACTIVITIES CONDUCTED 

This report summarises current achievements made during the month of March 2020 in accordance with the Agency Agreement.  

  1. Procurement of sewing machines and materials 

With funding received from Friends of Malawi Association, COFO has managed to procure two Singer sewing machines to start the project. Also Community Forum managed to procure mixed items for Wonderbag production such as lining, chippings, foams, and fabric among others. 

Two Sewing machines for the project
Some of the materials procure for Wonderbag production in Malawi
  1. Production of Wonderbags:

Community Forum uses sourced local fabric, foam, equipment and materials from established suppliers in nearby Blantyre, the textile capital of Malawi to manufacture Wonderbags. Currently 30 Wonderbags have been made. We are testing Malawi Wonderbags with South Africa Wonderbag to compare heat retention ability. 

Community Forum production of Wonderbag in Malawi

We have sent the results to our mother partner Wonderbags in South Africa, and we are currently waiting for their approval about the Malawian Wonderbag. They will recommend Community Forum to other potential buyers in Malawi such as Malawi Red Cross and other organisations and companies.

  1. Emergency respond on COVID-19 

Community Forum has pivoted to respond to the requests made at a meeting held on 31st March 2020, where the Chikwawa District Health Office urged its partners to raise awareness and provide supplies on COVID-19. Community Forum with funding from Friends of Malawi Association agreed to manufacture 500 facemasks to be distributed within Dyeratu market and community. COFO mostly targeted our help toward specific HIV-related emergencies that have arisen as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We focused facemask delivery to people with compromised immune systems who are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) in rural communities.

COFO also distributed soap to rural women where we targeted 120 households. 

Facemasks manufactured by Community Forum to respond COVID-19 in Chikwawa
  1. Monitoring and Evaluation. 

Monitoring has been conducted weekly, and performance monitoring has been used to identify existing gaps within planned actions and actual progress made. 

  1. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE GREATEST SUCCESSES OVER THE PAST MONTHS

The Financial and Environmental Sustainability Through Wonderbags project has worked with Malawi Red Cross and conducted a Wonderfeast on 1st March 2020 where COFO demonstrated how the Wonderbag works. After the demonstration, everyone shared a community meal. This brought together 30 members within the Red Cross community to discuss local challenges and opportunities, leaving them feeling empowered and connected.

The project continues to value greatly the communication with the existing staff and partners of Community Forum such as the Wonderbag marketing officer, project field workers, community volunteers, government officials and other NGOs working in the district. 

Community Forum’s (COFO) response to COVID-19 is to support its community members. COFO, with funding from Friends of Malawi Association, has managed to manufacture 500 facemasks, procured 3 cartons U-fresh soap, which we distributed to 82 members of the HIV/AIDS support groups, 18 facemasks for staff and 400 facemasks at Dyeratu market place for shop owners to use. 

  1. What have been the greatest challenges over the past months

The project has been unable to meet some of its targets due to the unstable economy of Malawi. The Kwacha continues to decrease in value; a situation that has led to our failure to procure all needed materials. The devaluation of the Kwacha also increases the cost of living. 
In Malawi on 18th April, confirmed 17 COVID-19 cases and 2 deaths. Chikwawa district, where COFO works, is among the areas with confirmed cases of COVID-19. This has affected our daily operation including project implementation, as it requires social distancing and contact tracing to prevent community transmission.