Burning solid fuels, such as wood and charcoal, have negative health, environmental and climate change effects. This is due to the large amounts of black carbon and carbon-based greenhouse gases released, which contribute to global warming and contributes to the global burden of disease. Annually, about 4 million people die prematurely worldwide from illnesses linked to pollution from burning solid fuels in inefficient stoves used for cooking and heating in households. Solid fuels, especially wood and charcoal, is the most popular household cooking fuel in Nigeria.
According to Clean Cooking Alliance, about 64,200 people die annually from pollution produced from burning these fuels in inefficient stoves Propcom Mai-karfi contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by implementing interventions that promote clean energy and reduce deforestation. One of such interventions is the Improved Cookstoves intervention. PM partners with, and supports, small-scale businesses that fabricate and market fuel efficient cookstoves to target households with the stoves and provide income generating opportunities to people in rural communities. Guided by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)’s strategic vision of ‘Leaving No One Behind’, PM takes deliberate measures to ensure the inclusion of people with disability (PwD) by training our partners to be disability aware and inclusive, and providing support to ensure PwD can fully participate.
“[I] pray, write on slate, go to shop, pray, review orders for the day, back to home.” This is what Abdulkadir Falalu’s daily routine looks like now. He has a shop where he sells cookstoves and other items; a far cry from when he depended on government’s monthly stipend, and later begging for alms when the government stopped paying the stipend. Abdulkadir is
unmarried and lives with his parents in Dukku area of Gombe State. He became physically disabled in 1999 after a vehicular accident that required one of his legs to be amputated.
After the [Gombe State] government intervention of N5000 (£10.5) stopped, I resorted to begging at filling stations and checkpoints and writing on slate for Islamiya students (Almajiri) for a fee.
As someone with disability, Abdulkadir’s life typified the experience of many poor people with disability in Nigeria who don’t
have a dignified means of making a living, with some resorting to begging. However, Abdulkadir’s life would take a turn for the better when in 2019, while begging, his paths crossed with Alhaji Hamza, an NGO worker. Alhaji Hamza would later nominate him to Women Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE), one of Propcom’s partners on the cookstove intervention, to be trained as an energy champion and support widespread rural distribution of the efficient cookstove.
I was informed by Alhaji Hamza in Gombe that he has submitted my name and contact to WISE. I was in Gombe for a 4-days
training organised by WISE and Propcom Mai-karfi.
After the training, WISE gave Abdulkadir and others who had been trained 15 cookstoves each, with no down payment, to help them kickstart their business. This support was critical as otherwise Abdulkadir would not have had the funds to outrightly purchase the cookstoves and start his small business.
…[they] gave us 15 cookstoves to start the business with; one of the stoves was given to us free for our personal use.
About 9 months after being trained and starting his small business, Abdulkadir said that on average he sold 8 stoves per month and made about N16,000 (about £33.6) in commission. As demand grew for the cookstoves, Abdulkadir trained and employed two of his siblings to support him as his disability makes it difficult for him to move around.
As demand became high, I employed two of my siblings to help me with delivery and marketing. I have difficulty walking without my third leg and my siblings, whom I pay N3000 ((£6.31) monthly, have been helpful to me.
With income made from the business, Abdulkadir expanded into other ventures. He now sells mobile phone recharge cards and charges phones for people in the community at a fee; a much-needed service seeing as electricity is not always available. From begging for alms to making an income of N16,000 a month, Abdulkadir’s life has greatly improved and he agrees.
However, like many small businesses, Abdulkadir’s business was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic; especially during the lockdown. He recalls that he was unable to restock his store due to cessation of supplies during the lockdown and resorted to depending on phone charging and sale of recharge cards to earn money and support his family.
Covid-19 affected the business seriously. It affected supply. I have to fall back to phone charging and recharge cards with the profits made from sales of cookstoves.
Now that he has a dignified and consistent means of livelihood, Abdulkadir has great plans for his business. He hopes to open outlets in neighbouring villages and, importantly, employ other people with disabilities. In his own words, “take more PwD off the streets by giving them work to do”.
The cookstove business is a blessing to me and my family. It came at the time I needed it most. It has taken me off the street begging and given me a job. I am able to take care of myself and family and have also become an employer of labour. I am planning to do awareness in neighbouring villages on cookstoves and open sales outlets in such locations. I also want to expand the phone charging business to include sale of phones and chargers.