THE Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust has embarked on a massive distribution of eco-friendly rocket stoves to help combat wood poaching and human-wildlife conflicts in the resort town.

Eco-friendly rocket stoves will offset the carbon-footprint and preserve the environment in line with the city’s thrust to be a green tourist destination.

The rocket stoves, fired up twigs and paper, are being distributed across all the resort town’s 11 wards.

Their use is expected to save trees and other flora and fauna which make Victoria Falls a preferred destination.

Distribution of the gadgets began on the May 9, 2022 and has resulted in 4 360 households benefiting from the initiative.

With some parts of the city not yet connected to the national electricity grid, residents have been cutting down trees in nearby bushes, thereby causing deforestation and land degradation. In the process they also encountered wildlife that roams the area.

First preference was given to households without power, the vulnerable members of the community, especially people with disabilities (PWDs) and the elderly who have had to navigate loose Kalahari sands in the resort city to look for fuelwood.

Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust community development co-ordinator, Edith January said: “The Victoria Falls community has been very supportive and receptive to the project. The exercise went on very well despite a few challenges faced in two wards. I would also like to commend the Victoria Falls city council for being very instrumental in ensuring the smooth initiation and commencement of the project as well as the community leaders who prioritised marginalised and disadvantaged groups like PWDs, child-headed families as well as the elderly.

“These stoves will come in handy in Victoria Falls’ commitment to embark on projects that promote use of clean energy, combating deforestation activities as well as reduction of human-wildlife conflicts.

“Residents will no longer have to go deeper into the bush for firewood, but will have to get twigs within their yards for cooking.”

The gadgets promote complete combustion that reduces the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere, thus contributing to a reduction in carbon emissions.

The initiative will also uplift the people’s lives as it reduces the costs of buying other energy alternatives.

“It is also good that people get energy from the minimum resources in the environment, which is twigs and leaves than destroying the whole tree,” Kelvin Moyo of the Victoria Falls Combined Residents Association said.

Chairperson of the Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust, Bruno De Leo said the stoves would save 60-70% of wood in Victoria Falls.

“We have also got a challenge on human-wildlife conflicts where women who are traditionally responsible for looking for firewood tend to make encounters with buffalos and elephants leading to loss of life. As a Trust, we are also exploring chances of expanding into the surrounding rural areas so that we increase the impact of the stoves on the environment,” De Leo said.

Source Newsday