The Gambia 'Live Well' Launch - March 2023
On the morning of March 20th 2023, Jara Soma town, in the Lower River Region, The Gambia was buzzing with excitement. The community had gathered to witness the launch of the Live Well programme, through which 125,000 improved cookstoves are to be distributed in rural Gambian communities by 2024, that is one for every rural household.
At exactly 11:30am, Jaliba Kuyateh opened the day’s events with a thrilling performance of his music as the area’s Governor Mr. Seedy Lamin Bah, our host for the day, welcomed guests and beneficiaries from the community.
The event was graced by the Minister of Petroleum & Energy, Hon. Abdou Jobe, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Welfare Naomi Williams, representatives from the Ministry of Environment and local regional chiefs.
Speaker after speaker emphasized the need for extending access to clean cooking technology to rural communities. For these families, a high quality, high performance improved cookstove is too expensive and this leaves them with no other option but to cook on the traditional 3 stone open fire which has devastating consequences for the environment & the families’ health.
As our team demonstrated the stove and its features to the crowd, showing how quickly it lights, with very little smoke and Chief Operating Officer Euan McDougall reiterated DelAgua’s vision to provide improved cookstoves to all rural households free of charge combined with the long-term education and support that will transform families’ lives.
Alongside Head of Government Relations, Monica Keza, Euan spoke passionately about DelAgua’s history and the multiple benefits of the programme, including the employment and training of the Village Development Committee youth who assist with stove distributions and household visits. As a trusted network of community members, the VDCs educate the beneficiaries on the importance of clean cooking and it is this long term education and support embedded in the community that achieves lasting behavioral change.
The highlight of the event, however, was when Nyarko Manjang, one of the beneficiaries from the pilot distributions in February 2023, sang a song about how the stove has greatly improved her life and made cooking faster and easier. Other women from the community joined her in dancing and celebrating, a true testament to the benefits of the Live Well programme, especially for women and girls.
The Minister of Petroleum & Energy Hon. Abdou Jobe welcomed the partnership with DelAgua and committed to providing an enabling environment to support the programme implementation so that Gambians could benefit from it.
As a show of appreciation for their support, the DelAgua team then presented tree seedlings to our government partners that they promised to plant and nurture to play their part, alongside the stoves, in keeping trees in the ground.
In her speech, Naomi Williams, the deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Welfare said “These improved cookstoves will go a long way in improving the livelihoods of our rural women. Traditional cooking methods lead to environmental & health risks that predominantly affect women & girls who are usually responsible for cooking. Promoting use of improved cookstoves at commercial & household levels is therefore paramount.”
As Jaliba Kuyateh sang to the crowd to close the celebrations, 300 improved cookstoves were distributed to residents of Jara Soma who walked away with more than just a stove, they walked away with an improved way of living and cooking for themselves and their families.
We are grateful to our key partners in The Gambia, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Ministry of Local Government, Lands and Religious Affairs & the Local Governor’s office, who have supported the Live Well programme and to our team in The Gambia for their tireless work in ensuring that no household is left behind.