Women and Energy
Women for green energy and forest protection in Ethiopia
Ethiopia currently meets 95 percent of its energy demand through biomass. However, the wood and charcoal to produce this energy come from the country's last remaining natural forests. These forests are declining, particularly in rural regions where few alternative energy sources are available. The Kafa Biosphere Reserve, the birthplace of Arabica coffee, is especially affected. The daily demand for wood, for example for cooking with traditional stoves and as a fuel source, puts pressure on the ecosystems of the Afromontane cloud forests. The forests, which are vital for storing carbon, and as a water source and reservoir, are being increasingly put at risk.
In order to preserve the mountain rainforests and secure the energy supply for households in the long term, NABU is developing briquettes made from coffee husks: a previously unused waste product from coffee production. The briquettes are an environmentally friendly, alternative fuel source and also emit less smoke than charcoal, which reduces the impact on women and children’s health. The main target group of the project are women as they are traditionally responsible for cooking. They also often have a low level of education, a lack of self-determination and are at a economic and social disadvantage. Women from the Bonga Birhan Tesfa HIV Positive Association, among others, are responsible for promoting the new fuel and are being trained accordingly.
The use of coffee husk briquettes is intended to bring about a change in awareness towards long-term forest protection and healthier cooking.
Waste materials become recyclable materials: coffee husks, waste from coffee production, pollute groundwater and air if not stored properly or incinerated - photo: NABU
Coffee husk briquettes allow environmentally friendly cooking without the need for wood - photo: NABU / Bruno D'Amicis
The coffee husks are charred and then pressed into briquettes - photo: NABU
After pressing, the coffee husk briquettes are dried before they go on sale - photo: NABU
Through production and sales, women in particular are promoted - photo: NABU
The future entrepreneurs are trained by NABU to be able to sell the green energy source professionally on site - photo: NABU
The use of sustainable briquettes reduces deforestation, additional carbon emissions and promotes women's empowerment - photo: NABU
Environmentally aware women for renewable energy and forest protection in Ethiopia's Kafa Biosphere Reserve
Country / Region
South-west Ethiopia, Kafa Biosphere Reserve
May 2021 - December 2022
Kafa Zone Administration, Bonga Birhan Tesfa HIV Positive Association
Sponsored by / Supported by
With this project we are contributing to the following SDGs
SDG 1, SDG 3, SDG 5, SDG 7, SDG 11, SDG 12, SDG 13
Where do the coffee husks for the briquettes come from?
Dry coffee husks are a by-product of natural, sun-dried coffee production and are available everywhere in the region due to (wild) coffee production. So far this resource has not been utilised. The husks are only burnt on the premises of the processing plants and cause smoke, which is a nuisance for neighbouring communities, release climate gases and pollute the groundwater. If the husks are carbonised and processed into practical and convenient briquettes, they present an environmentally friendly alternative fuel with low smoke pollution.
What are the benefits of using coffee husk briquettes?
Increasing the use of coffee husk briquettes automatically reduces the need to use firewood and thus lessens the pressure put on forests. In this way, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced. The project aims to increase awareness of forest protection and alternative energy sources.
What role do women play in the project?
Local women in particular will play a key role as promoters in introducing the briquettes to the market.
What do we want to achieve with the project?
In the future, the women in the target region should have increased knowledge about local, renewable energy and forest protection and use the briquettes as much as possible. It is planned to achieve this through a promotional programme to introduce the coffee husk briquettes: more than 2,000 people will be addressed through cooking demonstration events, directly approaching several hundred households, cooperating with informal local social institutions and micro-entrepreneurs.