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Grønt kul skal sikre bæredygtig madlavning i Uganda

Lagt online: 10.08.2022

I Uganda og mange andre steder i Afrika, Latinamerika og Asien foregår madlavning i stort omfang med træ som brændsel - med sundhedsrisici, afskovning og temperaturstigninger til følge. Nu skal et tværfagligt samarbejde mellem Danmark og Uganda føre til udvikling af et bæredygtigt alternativ til trækul, nemlig grønt kul, som laves af restprodukter fra landbruget

Vores projekt tager fat i den store klimaudfordring – et problem som er anerkendt af både FN's Udviklingsprogram og WHO - at der i Afrika er et meget stort antal mennesker, der laver mad over træ og trækul.

Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld, professor på Aalborg Universitet

I Uganda er brænde og trækul de mest almindelige kilder, når man laver mad. Ifølge Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld, der er professor på Aalborg Universitet og leder af det nye forskningsprojekt, UPCHAIN, er brugen af trækul til madlavning stigende. Hun siger:

- Vores projekt tager fat i den store klimaudfordring – et problem som er anerkendt af både FN's Udviklingsprogram og WHO - at der i Afrika er et meget stort antal mennesker, der laver mad over træ og trækul. I Uganda og omkringliggende lande er der opstået en hel industri for trækul. Det betyder at skoven forsvinder, der sker begyndende ørkendannelse og temperaturen stiger. Projektet ønsker at udforske, hvordan man kan ændre madlavningstraditionerne og udvikle nye innovationsmodeller, så madlavning ikke belaster klimaet.

Produktion af grønt kul i Uganda

Løsningen er grønt kul

UPCHAIN går ud på at udvikle en innovationsmodel, som understøtter grønt kul som erstatning for trækul i Uganda. Grønt kul laves af restprodukter fra markerne som fx majsstængler eller risskaller og er derfor et bæredygtigt alternativ, som tilmed har langt mindre sundhedsmæssige konsekvenser ved afbrænding.

Grønt kul bruges allerede i Uganda i mindre omfang og i pionerprojekter, men et samarbejde mellem danske og ugandiske forskere og andre aktører i Uganda, skal sikre forskning og mere udbredt brug af grønt kul til madlavning. Projektet har sit udspring i Uganda, men potentialet er globalt.

UPCHAIN har fokus på at ændre sædvaner ud fra både et socialt, kulturelt og teknisk perspektiv. Eksempelvis vil UPCHAIN kortlægge mængden af landbrugsaffald i de enkelte husstande og undersøge brændværdien af det grønne trækul, der produceres af de forskellige restprodukter. I samarbejde med lokale tekniske skoler og iværksættere skal Gulu Universitet i Uganda udvikle små maskiner, der kan producere grønt kul. Der skal opbygges et produktionsapparat og udvikles forretningsmodeller, som gør det muligt for familierne at tilbagekøbe de grønne kul, efter at de har afleveret deres grønne restprodukter til produktionen af de bæredygtige kul.

Ressourcerne findes lokalt

Formålet med projektet er at bygge en industri op i lokalområderne og udvikle forretningsmodeller, så husstande og institutioner får råd til at ændre deres madlavningstraditioner. Gulu Universitet står fx for at udvikle maskinerne i et samspil med tekniske skoler, så de kan overtage produktionen på et tidspunkt. Det handler om at bruge den lokale ekspertise og ressourcer og at udvikle sammen med lokalsamfundet.

UPCHAIN har også en designorienteret og etnografisk vinkel, hvor forskerne skal afdække kulturelle barrierer og undersøge, hvilke typer af grønt kul forbrugerne ønsker, så de fx kan definere den ideelle størrelse på kullene, så de passer til lokale ovne og ildsteder. Forudsætningen for, at grønt kul bliver taget i brug, er at kvalitet og form opfylder husholdningernes og køkkenernes behov. Forskerne er derfor interesserede i at afdække behovene hos dem, der står for madlavning, typisk kvinder, og vil undersøge kønsdynamikker og sociokulturelle spørgsmål relateret til madlavning og indførelse af de nye energiformer.

Inkluderende bæredygtig innovation

For at undersøge alle disse sammenhængende faktorer er et tværfagligt team nødvendigt. Gruppen samler ekspertise inden for ingeniørvidenskab, klima, uddannelse, kulturelle forhold, handel, livsvilkår og indsigt i - og adgang til den lokale kontekst. Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld siger:

- Det nye er, at vi forsøger at bringe alle elementer i spil og få dem integreret med hinanden. Der findes masser af viden på de enkelte områder, men denne viden er ikke forbundet. Ved at samle enkeltdelene, kan vi overskride grænserne og udvikle helt nye metoder og dermed ændre den sædvanlige praksis for brugen af kul og brænde.

Samlet set bidrager projektet til udforskning af konceptet “inkluderende bæredygtig innovation”, der adresserer den tredobbelte udfordring, der ligger i ulighed, fattigdom og arbejdsløshed. Inkluderende innovation sigter mod, at alle dele af samfundet - især de marginaliserede fattige, uformelle aktører og lokale ressourcepersoner – aktivt skal kunne deltage i skabelsen og realiseringen af udviklingspotentialet såvel som mod en ligelige fordeling af gevinsterne ved udviklingen.

Lokale produktionsteknikker

Fakta

Projektets navn: Unlocking the Potential of Green CHArcoal Innovations to Mitigate Climate Change in Northern Uganda (UPCHAIN)

Projektperiode: 01/05/2022 → 30/04/2026

Launch: Projektet blev lanceret d. 10. maj 2022 i Uganda. Læs mere her: Huge Turn Up as Gulu University Launches Major Climate Change Research Project

Samlet bevilling: 11,999,489 DKK fra Danida. En postdoc, seks ph.d.-projekter og 12 Master-projekter bliver støttet af projektet.

Partnere i projektet:

Fra Danmark: Aalborg Universitet (kontaktperson Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld) og Københavns Universitet.

Fra Uganda: Gulu University (kontaktperson Collins Okello), Adjumani District & Refugees Camp, Appropriate Energy Saving Technologies (kontaktperson Betty Ikalany), Pabo Town Council, Amuru district og Gulu City.

News story

Green charcoal shall enable sustainable cooking in Uganda

In Uganda and many other places in Africa, Latin America and Asia, cooking on firewood or charcoal is very common - with health risks, deforestation, and rising temperature as a result. Now, an interdisciplinary collaboration between Denmark and Uganda is focusing on the development of a sustainable alternative to charcoal and firewood, namely green charcoal, which is made from residual products from agriculture.

News story

Green charcoal shall enable sustainable cooking in Uganda

In Uganda and many other places in Africa, Latin America and Asia, cooking on firewood or charcoal is very common - with health risks, deforestation, and rising temperature as a result. Now, an interdisciplinary collaboration between Denmark and Uganda is focusing on the development of a sustainable alternative to charcoal and firewood, namely green charcoal, which is made from residual products from agriculture.

In Uganda firewood and charcoal are the most common sources when preparing food. According to Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld, professor at Aalborg University and leader of the new research project, UPCHAIN, the use of charcoal for cooking is rising. She says:

- Our project addresses the major climate challenge - a problem acknowledged by both the United Nations Development Programme and the WHO - that a great deal of people cook over firewood and charcoal in Africa. In Uganda and surrounding countries, a charcoal industry has emerged. This causes the forest to disappear, incipient desertification, and rising temperatures. The project wants to research how to change these practices of cooking, and develope new innovation models, so that cooking does not exacerbate climate change.

Our project addresses the major climate challenge - a problem acknowledged by both the United Nations Development Programme and the WHO - that a great deal of people cook over firewood and charcoal in Africa.

Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld, Professor at Aalborg University

Production of green charcoal in Uganda

The solution is green charcoal

UPCHAIN ​​aims to develop a green charcoal innovation model to support a replacement for charcoal in Uganda. Green charcoal is made from residual products from the fields, such as corn stalks or rice husks, and is therefore a sustainable alternative, that also has less health-related consequences when burned.

Green charcoal is already in use in Uganda in a smaller scale and in pioneering projects, but the collaboration between Danish and Ugandan researchers and other operators in Uganda shall facilitate research and a more widespread adoption of green charcoal for cooking. The project originates in Uganda, but the potential is global.

UPCHAIN’s research focus is about changing both social, cultural, and technical practices. For example, UPCHAIN ​​will map the quantity of agricultural waste in the individual households and uncover the calorific value of the green charcoal produced from the various residual products. In collaboration with local technical schools and entrepreneurs, Gulu University in Uganda will develop small machines that can produce the green charcoal. A production machinery will be created, and business models developed, which shall enable the families to buy back the green charcoal after they have handed in their green residual products to the green charcoal production.

The resources are available locally

The intention is to develop an industry in the local areas and business models so that households and institutions can afford to change their cooking traditions. Gulu University, for example, is responsible for developing the machines in collaboration with local technical schools, so that they can take over production at a point. It is all about using the local expertise and resources and to facilitate development in collaboration with the communities.

From a design-oriented and ethnographic angle, researchers will also uncover cultural barriers and investigate what types of green charcoal consumers want and for example be able to define the ideal size of the green charcoals to suit local stoves and fireplaces. The quality and forms of the briquettes must fulfil the needs of the households and the kitchens as a prerequisite for being adopted. The researchers are therefore interested in identifying the needs of those in charge of cooking, typically women, and will investigate gender dynamics and socio-cultural issues related to cooking and green charcoal adoption.

Inclusive sustainable innovation

To research all these entangled factors, an interdisciplinary team is necessary. The group brings together expertise in engineering, environment, education, cultural factors, business, livelihood, as well as insight into - and access to - the local context. Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld says:

- It is new that we try to bring all elements into play and integrate them. There is a great deal of knowledge in the individual areas, but the knowledge is not connected. By assembling all the individual parts, it becomes possible to exceed the limits and we can develop completely new methods and change the practices of charcoal and firewood use.

Overall, the project is contributing to research the concept of inclusive sustainable innovation. Inclusive Innovation addresses the triple challenge of inequality, poverty & unemployment, and enables all sectors of society, particularly the marginalised poor, informal sector actors and indigenous knowledge holders to participate in creating and actualizing innovation opportunities as well as equitably sharing in the benefits of development.

Local fabrication techniques

Objectives

Facts

Project name: Unlocking the Potential of Green CHArcoal Innovations to Mitigate Climate Change in Northern Uganda (UPCHAIN)

Project period: 01/05/2022 → 30/04/2026

Launch: May 10th, 2022 in Uganda. Read more here: Huge Turn Up as Gulu University Launches Major Climate Change Research Project

Fund: 11,999,489 DKK from Danida (Denmark’s development cooperation). One postdoc, six PhDs and 12 Master students are funded by the project.

Partners in Denmark: Aalborg University (Lone Dirckinck-Holmfeld), University of Copenhagen.

Partners in Uganda: Gulu University (Collins Okello), Adjumani District & Refugees Camp, Appropriate Energy Saving Technologies (Betty Ikalany), Pabo Town Council, Amuru district