Improved Cooking Techniques In South Africa (BASA MAGOGO)

In South Africa approximately 1 million people use coal to heat their homes and to cook their meals. As a result 26% of all hospital admissions for respiratory problems and disease are caused by the inhalation of these deadly fumes. Additionally, burning coal releases an estimated 4.3 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere every year increasing the pressure on climate change.

The Basa Magogo improved cooking technique project is the first registered Gold Standard project of its kind in the world. The project changes coal lighting behavior through a locally integrated program, where township locals demonstrate the Basa Magogo way to light a coal fire to households. The result is a more fuel efficient and cleaner burning fire that reduces carbon emissions and negative health impacts.

Facts & Figures

  • Project Type
    Carbon Development
  • Country
    South Africa
  • Program
    Basa Magogo
  • Partners

The technique, called Basa Magogo, means ‘Light it up, grandmother’ in Zulu. The Basa Magogo method was named after a community member of eMbalenhle near Secunda, South Africa, called Granny Nebelungu Mashinini. She perfected the method when the Nova Institute introduced and tested the technique in the communities back in 2004.

Conventionally, a fire is started by placing firewood and other ignition material at the bottom of the stove or brazier and coal is added on top. The Basa Magogo alternative involves placing the coal at the bottom of the stove or brazier, followed by placing the firewood or other ignition material on top, then just a handful of coal on top of the fire. As a result the fire burns from the top downwards instead of from the bottom upwards. Since the conventional way is widespread, a comprehensive program of small group demonstrations, surveys, monitoring and maintenance needs to take place.

Economic: Coal purchase savings average €40 per household per year, additional time for economic activities, and savings in health costs are more difficult to quantify but based on several well-documented surveys it is estimated to be at least 10 times more than the coal savings.

Household level: Studies by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa also show that the time needed to reach cooking temperature using Basa Magogo was 10 minutes compared to 60 minutes for the conventional heating method.

Health: 90% reduction in indoor smoke and 80% reduction in ambient air pollution, better visibility and reduced health risk.

Environment: 50% less coal is used to produce the same amount of heat and so 300.7 kg less coal is used by households per year. This works out to 1.3 tons of CO2 reduced per family per year!

The costs of implementing the project are covered 100% by the sale of carbon credits by FairClimateFund (FCF). Carbon finance has made Basa Magogo demonstrations possible in the townships of South Africa. Additionally, income from the sale of carbon credits will be shared with the Nova Institute. How this income will be allocated is currently being discussed with Nova. The goal is to reinvest a substantial amount into the community in a useful and measureable manner.

FCF has partnered with the Nova Institute since 2010, providing financing and upfront payments to enable the expansion of the Basa Magogo Program. The partnership is long-term with the aim of reaching out to 280,000 households.

FCF only invests in projects that qualify for a Gold Standard Certification. Gold Standard guarantees the quality and rigor of the project and the environmental and social benefits locally. It is the highest standard at the moment.


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