Interview with TWESA’s Director Jimmy Mzilahowa

Jimmy Mzilahowa

This interview was conducted during the national cleaner cooking awareness campaign in Karonga.

What does TWESA mean?

Twesa is a Nkhonde word which means “all together”. However we played with it to stand for Togetherness Will Enhance Sustainable Actions. What we are trying to do is to call for unity when it comes to different interventions set to fight the many problems that we are facing.

What problems are prevalent in Karonga?

The biggest problem we have is natural disasters. Every year in Karonga, we experience floods which affect people’s lives and they have to relocate to different places. Properties are destroyed and we even have an outbreak of diseases such as cholera, as a result of the floods.

What work is TWESA involved in?

TWESA is working in 3 thematic areas, water sanitation and hygiene, climate change and sustainable agriculture and women and youth empowerment. But WASH, climate change and even women and youth empowerment are issues that are interconnected with problems and solutions.

I see cookstoves/fixed cookstoves on display, can you explain how TWESA is involved in the cleaner cookstove sector?

We are promoting improved cookstoves.  We would like the communities to construct these cookstoves. The one we are promoting now is the fixed stove and we would like the communities to construct these cookstoves in their kitchen. These cookstoves are a good alternative because they can use 3 to 4 branches of firewood and one can be able to cook nsima and other things at the same time. We are also promoting Chitetezo Mbaula which we have not actually started to roll-out on the ground, but we are coming up with serious steps to do so. We have established a production site where we are producing briquettes and it is where we will be producing the Chitetezo Mbaula.

TWESA’s fixed stove

How long has this cookstoves project been running?

It is 5 months old. This is the first phase of the project and after a year, we move to 2 years because by then we will be able to find some areas that need improvement.

What has been the reception of the cookstoves in the communities?

The response is very unbelievable. Communities are saying that we should have introduced these technologies a long time ago. They did not know that there could be this solution that minimises the amount of firewood they have been using all these years. The communities are happy and they have built beautiful stoves which allow them to cook diffrenet things at the same time. The response has been great.

Do you think that cookstoves are really going to make a difference in Karonga?

Yes. Change begins at a household level and if a house reduces the amount of firewood, a whole village will reduce firewood at a larger quantity. If more villages adopt these stoves, Karonga will be able to save a lot more trees by using less firewood.