Back to the ‘buka’

Demonstration of the SITOVU BUKA at an event in Suva. Picture: Wanshika Kumar

Gas stoves may be a more modern and faster way to cook, but residents in Savutalele are reverting to matchsticks and firewood to put together a meal. One, it’s simply cheaper, but even better still; it plays a small part in the global fight against climate change.

The kerosene-free stove, SITOVU BUKA, entered the life of Kiti Pilitati three years ago, and became her magical wand to save money, time — and in her own small way — help mitigate the climate risks.

While the community health officer enjoyed cooking over a gas or a kerosene stove, SITOVU BUKA made her cooking memorable as she resuscitated her ancestors’ style of cooking.

She is one of five women from Savutalele Settlement along Princes Rd that now only has to arrange for a matchstick to cook.

But as her SITOVU BUKA reaches the end of its life, she hopes she and the rest of the Savutalele community can get new stoves and continue the global fight.

Economical effects

The worry about the heavy toll food and fuel price increments would have on low-income earners has left many having sleepless nights. The price of kerosene has increased from $1.69 per litre to $2.34 per litre since the start of the year.

The price of cooking gas had decreased since last month from $2.03 to $47.32 with 4.5kg cylinder at $17.74 while bulk gas as of today is $3.65 per kg. And Mrs Pilitati’s family is one of those impacted.

The 42-year-old said her family had saved more than $30 per month through the SITOVU BUKA.

“We don’t have to spend so much money on the firewood, kerosene or the gas, it’s only three dry sticks and our rice, cassava or fish is cooked,” she said.

“Over the past three years, we have managed to save a lot of money as we normally used gas.

“Before, gas was around $40 a cylinder and kerosene was quite expensive so it’s a must we have saved a lot. “With that cost, we had to pay the taxi fare as well to transport the gas cylinder to the shop so that’s an additional $7 to $8.”

Countrywide initiative — SITOVU BUKA

Over the past three years, approximately 60,000 Fijian families residing in more than 1000 rural communities throughout the 14 provinces have benefited from this countrywide initiative.

The initiative is part of the Improved Cook Stove program in Fiji which is part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change-Clean Development Mechanism (UNFCCC – CDM).

This UNFCCC – CDM initiative aims to accelerate sustainable energy access for women in rural communities and is funded by Korea Carbon Management Ltd.

The CDM is seen by many as a trailblazer. It is the first global, environmental investment and credit scheme of its kind, providing a standardised emission offset instrument, CERs. Such projects can earn saleable certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2, which can be counted towards meeting Kyoto targets.

Kasabias Pte Ltd chief financial officer Bhavna Nandini said a key outcome of the countrywide initiative would be to visit over 1000 rural communities that had received a clean energy stove to conduct workshops on its maintenance and safe use as well as live cooking demonstrations using locally available healthy ingredients from our gardens and markets.


Today, Mrs Pilitati is in need of another SITOVU BUKA as her previous one has become nonoperational.

It also means they are back to using kerosene and gas, with the fumes making it difficult for her and her husband to breathe in their house. “Before we didn’t have to worry about whether we have gas or kerosene but now it’s a hassle for us to ensure that we have gas at home.”

She is pleading with Kasabias Pte Ltd for a new one as its absence has taken her life three
years back.

“Having the stove helped me a lot because I’m a volunteer community worker and we are only given allowances so with this stove it has helped me with my family’s budget.

“I really need one for myself and for the women in my community. “I have requested Kasabias to provide the stove to the community and I hope it will be considered by them.”

In response, Kasabias Pte Ltd chief operating officer Dwain Qalovaki said as part of the improved cook stove program in Fiji, SITOVU BUKA also has provisions to replace those clean energy stoves that do not meet the manufacturers recommended life cycle for at least three years.

He said their main criteria for distribution was to those Fijian families that predominantly utilised outdoor fireplaces for daily meal preparation.

  •  The Fiji Times would like to thank SITOVU BUKA, ABC International Development and the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership for their support for this story.

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