Goodbye, charcoal: Propane cooking is cheaper, faster, healthier
“Our kitchen works a lot faster. The use of propane, instead of charcoal, as cooking fuel helps us in many ways.”
In the Kenscoff mountains above Port-au-Prince, Haiti, a busy school kitchen is running more efficiently, saving money and protecting the environment.
The Ecole Fondamentale d'Application et Centre d'Appui Pédagogique (EFACAP) switched from charcoal to propane for all its cooking needs in September 2013.
“Our kitchen works a lot faster,” said Genèse Laguerre, cook for the 600-student school. “The use of propane, instead of charcoal, as cooking fuel helps us in many ways. The fumes from charcoal were affecting my eyes. With the propane, there’s no more smoke, and less heat in the kitchen.”
EFACAP is the 23rd school converted by the USAID-financed, three-year Improved Cooking Technology Program ("Recho Pa’w" in Creole). The program promotes sustainable energy for cooking, and helps to reduce the consumption of charcoal by large-scale users and households.
With over 20 years of experience, EFACAP cook Felicia Bastien knows well the problems associated with charcoal. “Propane offers spectacular benefits unlike charcoal," she says. "Cooking is less of a hassle. We can get up later in the morning. We finish a lot earlier, and the students can be served on time. It used to take us about seven hours to cook for 600 students using charcoal, but with propane, it takes only three.”
School counselor Edgard Bernardeau sees the environmental benefits, as now there is no need to cut trees for fuel. The switch also is saving EFACAP more than $1,300 a year in fuel costs, savings which are critical to a school also providing teaching support to over 20 area schools.
“We intend to use the savings to provide our children a richer, healthier and more balanced diet,” Bernardeau said.
EFACAP, a Ministry of Education-run school, will serve as a model for other large users of charcoal throughout the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, where most of the country’s charcoal is consumed. During 2014, USAID will feature this school's success in a campaign to target 800 additional schools and orphanages, with the aim to save up to 3,300 tons of charcoal a year.
The Recho Pa’w program has seen success in other areas. In May 2013, the program converted the SONAPI industrial park cooking zone, which serves 12,000 workers lunch daily, from charcoal to propane. The conversion saves 540 tons of charcoal annually, and is serving as a model for other corporate and government-controlled cooking areas.
Last updated: May 23, 2014