Cooking is now easier than ever before for women like Nargis

October 03, 2018


The northern part of Bangladesh is extremely vulnerable to disasters, like floods and heavy rainfalls, which tremendously hampers the daily lives of the people dwelling in this region every year. One such community in this area is the Khasbarashimul community of Saidabad Union in Sirajganj Sadar Upazila, where access to modern cooking facilities is not obtainable for most of the community people due to poverty, low-economic development, geophysical location, and recurring natural disasters. 

 men are primarily responsible for cooking in our community and I cook three times a day to serve my family members. Like other rural areas of Bangladesh, the traditional ‘clay made cooker’ is the only means for us for cooking. Though I feel comfortable to cook during the dry season, problems arise in winter and rainy seasons, and during flood periods - my miseries know no bound”, says Nargis Khatun, 27, a housewife from Khasbarashimul community.

In the winter season, the traditional ‘clay made cooker’ creates problems and in the rainy season it does not support at all as wet weather creates difficulties to burn available firewood like tree leaves, straw, jute stick, and cow manure etc.” she adds.
Considering these facts - with a view to reducing miseries of community people through making them capable to use natural resources efficiently - a 2-day long training was provided so that they can prepare a special kind of stove which can be used easily around the year. The support has been provided under the Road to Resilience (R2R) project of Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) aiming to support the Khasbarashimul community to be efficiently resilient by increasing their capacity to have access to natural resources. Significant logistics support is in place in the Community Information Center (CIC) – accessible for community people who can easily prepare the stove according to their needs. 
Preparing this stove at CIC is comparatively cheaper than in the market. It requires BDT 500-600 (USD 6 -7) to buy the special stove from the local market, but the community people can easily make this stove from CIC costing only BDT 150-200 (approx. USD 2). This moveable stove is known as the Alga Chula in nearby markets of Sirajganj district. The Alga Chula has made lives easier for the women – who are believed to be responsible to manage food in such communities – as they do not have to struggle to prepare food for their families during the emergency situation. This special stove can be kept away from getting inundated and is mobile – thus cooking during floods is now easier.
 “Families like us are usually dependent on using available natural resources as fuel for cooking purposes. But, extra fuels are needed as the traditional ‘clay made cooker’ consumes more fuels and this is problematic for us”, Nargis reflects. The portable stove requires less firewood which is available in the community. As the stove requires less firewood, it is believed that the community people will substantially reduce the rate of cutting down trees for cooking purposes. Also, it will reduce health hazard as it creates less smoke. This kind of stoves are not entirely new to the community people as many families have been using such kind of mobile stoves from earlier times. The project is helping to spread the indigenous knowledge widely in the community.
“Earlier, during flood period, a miserable situation prevailed in our community. We used to have insufficient fuel to cook, which resulted in starvation. But, in the potential upcoming floods, I am no more anxious about preparing food during emergencies. If I need to leave my house for a few weeks during the flood period, I can carry my stove. Meanwhile, I have started advising the community people to prepare this stove as soon as possible and remove their anxiety about managing food in the upcoming floods”, Nargis says delightfully while talking about the training she got and stove she made. Having such stove help them in lessening their day to day traditional workload for cooking, as they do not have to go and collect a lot of firewood, which offers free time for utilizing in other purposes.
Road to Resilience (R2R) project has been piloted at Khasbarashimul community, Sirajganj, Bangladesh from September 2017 to May 2018 by BDRCS, with the support of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Swedish Red Cross (SRC).
Md. Ashik Sarder, IFRC Bangladesh