By Our Reporter
An oil company and a local financier – Stabex International and Finance Trust Bank Uganda – have come together to launch a facility to enable more women buy Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders to support them move away from biomass intensive cooking, to adoption of gas. In the long run the intervention is expected to help de-carbonize the country’s energy mix.
Under this arrangement, Finance Trust Bank customers (especially women) will access a loan (dubbed the Stabex Women LPG Loan Scheme) to purchase an LPG cooking set supplied by Stabex International. They can then pay back in monthly installments for up to 3 months.
Studies by Uganda’s Ministry of Energy & Mineral Development show that over 90 per cent of households in the country use biomass energy- particularly charcoal and firewood for cooking, which is blamed for the country’s fast disappearing forestry cover.
The drive to increase use of LPG is expected to promote use of better sources of energy for low income households. The LPG fuel and technology will provide a cleaner, healthier cooking environment for women as compared to the solid biomass (like firewood, charcoal, crop and animal waste) which is less efficient, more energy consuming and causes massive in-door pollution, which is now attributed to many respiratory health problems indicated by women.
Access to modern, clean fuel by poor and rural households is currently limited by relatively high costs and unreliable supply; which is of particular relevance in Uganda as LPG is still mainly imported.
During the launch ceremony of the Women LPG Loan Scheme that was held at the Stabex International Headquarters in Kampala, Annette Kiggundu, Finance Trust Bank’s executive director, said the bank’s decision to partner with Stabex was not only informed by Stabex’s proximity to the bank’s core customers (women) but also the realization that LPG provides a clean and cost-effective alternative for cooking, not just in urban areas, but in the rural and semi-urban regions as well.
The LPG clean alternative is expected to bring about varied benefits in the wider scheme of things- including reducing rates of deforestation, improving health of people who cook (mainly women), reducing the costs of cooking, saving the amount of time women spend cooking and provide a cleaner cooking environment.
“With the availability of a convenient financial solution through our short-term loans, we will be scaling up LPG use to favor women and children who are mostly affected with regard to health, poverty and time wastage when using traditional cooking methods,” Kiggundu said.
The facility is available in all Finance Trust Bank branches and Stabex Fuel Stations.