Greenlight 2015's first project encapsulates and fully expresses Greenlight 2015's values and goals and shows how small-scale projects can have a direct impact on individuals and can directly contribute to the Millenmium Development goals to introduce economically and environmentally sustainable solutions to reduce hunger, protect the environment, improve health, and support gender equality.
We are currently working on raising funds to introduce the chorkor smoker and banda house to a fishing village in West Africa.
A banda house is a structure that will house improved fish smokers known as Chorkor Smokers. These Chorkor Smokers can have a remarkable impact on improving the health, economy and environment of fishing villages throughout West Africa.
We are currently raising funds to build this first location.
One of the primary economic activities of these villages is fishing and fish-smoking, for personal consumption as well as for sale in the fish markets. Presently, the villagers conduct their fish smoking on "open bandas," fueled by the burning of mangrove wood, inside their individual homes. Open banda smokers are simple structures where fish are laid, stretched over wooden poles and smoked over an open fire.
These open bandas present the following problems for the village:
- Health: The families live in smoke-filled homes. This smoke is presently very dangerous to their health. The inhalation of cooking smoke is known to be the leading cause of death in children under 5 years old in developing countries.
- Safety: The open banda fish smokers, which run day and night in the home, present a terrible fire hazard. And because homes are close to one another, one fire outbreak quickly spreads to many homes in the community. Loss of homes and lives due to these fire outbreaks are common occurrences.
- Environment: The open bandas are very fuel in-efficient because they are open and a large majority of the energy escapes. The fuel wood is mangrove, which not only creates harmful smoke for inhalation, but is also a dwindling resource to this region. Reduction in mangrove forests, where fish often reproduce, results in overall reduction in fish populations. The diminishing mangroves threaten the ecology and economy of the region.
- Economy: As the mangroves diminish, the cost of fuel wood increases as well as the time required to gather it. Also, the amount of fish that can be smoked on these bandas is limited and the villagers cannot take full advantage of the peak fishing seasons, resulting in high post-harvest loss.
In 1979, in Ghana, Africa, the Chorkor Smoker, an improved fish smoker, was designed by the Food Research Institute with the assistance of the FAO and the women in the village of Chorkor. The Chorkor Smoker has since been successfully introduced in many other regions of Africa, including Ghana (1980s), Benin (1982) and Guinea (1983), financed by UNIFEM and executed by the FAO.
The improved Chorkor Smoker features a "closed banda" design that supports multiple trays for fish smoking and a reflective surface on the inside lid. The Chorkor Smoker is similar enough to the open banda design so that it integrates well into the traditions and expectations of the fish smoking communities, but introduces simple yet significant improvements, including:
- Decreased fuel wood consumption by more than 80% via increase in fuel efficiency
- Circulated smoke inside the smoker, so no smoke in the eyes and far less smoke escaping into the air
- Low construction cost.
- Long-life; up to 15 years when made with cement block
- Large capacity. Up to 18 kg of fish per tray; as many as 15 trays per oven
- Higher quality and uniformity of smoked fish due to greater retention of heat and circulation of smoke
- Much less time and effort required for operation
The cost benefits of the Chorkor Smoker are remarkable. A single use of a Chorkor Smoker smoking its full capacity of 160 kg of fish (16 kg per tray on 10 trays) would roughly cost 1,024N in fuelwood (6.4N x 160kg) in NIgeria. To smoke 160 kg of fish using the existing open banda method, it would cost $8,000N (50N x 160kg).
In Nigeria, fish smokers can realize a savings of $7,076N, an 87% savings, for every smoking cycle using the Chorkor Smoker.
Greenlight 2015 is working directly with members of various organizations and being advised by other organizations that have successfully implemented similar projects in their communities. We are also fortunate to have the help of many interested volunteers, friends, and neighbors.
Our project has been supported by the advice, knowledge, work, support, and creative problem-solving from our neighbors and facilitor, Andrew Parker, on the Nabuur.com website.
The Cameroon Wildlife Conservation Society
Dr. Gordon Ajonina and Fidele Mekongo are currently at work in Cameroon on a similar project to introduce improved fish smokers to the fish smoking communities. They are presently advising our team on fish smoker construction.
The Food and Agricultural Department - Fisheries
Jim Miller, a Technical Advisor in the FAO Fisheries Department who has been working on projects like these since 1991 is advising us on the best practices of smoker design and fish handling.
The Mangrove Action Project (M.A.P)
Mr. Alfredo Quarto, Executive Director and Co-founder of M.A.P., has connected us to experts in the field and advises us on environmentally sound solutions for mangrove environments.
The introduction of improved Chorkor Smokers will improve the health of fish-smoking communities through reduced inhalation of smoke and decrease of house fires, and will improve the economy and environment through the increased production and marketability of high-quality smoked fish, through reduced post-harvest loss, and through significant reductions in the use of mangrove fuel wood. Additionally, improved post-harvest preservation practices will help fish populations to resurge and thrive, thus supporting the livelihood of the community.
In these regions, women and children over 5 years old are the primary fish smokers and would be the primary beneficiaries of the health and time-saving benefits of the improved fish smoking facilities. By extension, the entire region will benefit from the economic and environmental benefits as well, including fishermen, fish mongers and buyers, fish processors, fuel wood traders and any other interested member of the community. It is expected that each banda house built will host improved smokers to benefit at least 200 persons.