This sawdust briquette recipe solves a common problem for women in rural Africa

African Sisters Education Collaborative (ASEC)

Sr. Jane teaches her sawdust briquette recipe to the women in her community. It has long been a dream of these women to find an alternative to firewood.

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In the forests of Malawi, women walk long distances to find dry wood for cooking and heating their homes. But, Sr. Jane's innovative idea solves this common problem and now she's teaching the recipe women in her community.

In the forest of Kalulu Hill in the Mchinji District in Malawi, firewood is in short supply. Women must walk long distances in search of dry wood to use for cooking and heating their homes. These women are at risk of being victims of rape in this forest just by trying to provide basic necessities for their families. It has long been a dream of these women to find an alternative to firewood.

Sr. Jane Perpetual Chitete did not spend her summer holiday as most students do, resting and visiting with friends. She spent time with these women and taught them new ideas for survival. Sr. Jane is a Higher Education for Sisters in Africa (HESA) program participant. She studies at the Catholic University of Malawi. She credits her Professor J. Chipeta and his course Business Planning and Practice for “opening my eyes to be able to see beyond my capability."

Sr. Jane taught the women a simple sawdust briquette recipe made from sawdust and water to make briquettes for their fires. The nearby Kachebere Seminary Carpentry Shop has heaps and heaps of sawdust for the women to form into these briquettes which they can then use and sell for a profit. 

Now these women are relieved from the burden of waking up early in the morning and walking long distances in dangerous conditions to gather wood. This new innovation has also reduced the improper practice of cutting down trees in the forest of Kalulu Hill. This would not have been possible without the guidance of Sr. Jane and her education provided to her by ASEC.

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Sawdust briquettes made from a simple recipe of sawdust and water, burning on the fire.

Sawdust briquettes made from a simple recipe of sawdust and water, burning on the fire.

Sr. Jane’s Sawdust Briquette Recipe


  • One pail of water
  • Two pails of sawdust

Instructions: Take one pail of water and combine with 2 pails of sawdust and leave the mixture out for a night. The following morning, squeeze the mixture with your hands and make simple ball shapes (briquettes) and leave them for a few days to dry. That’s it!

Critical thinking skills help Sisters solve unique challenges

Through the creativity and innovation that comes with ASEC training, Sisters are capable of solving unique challenges in their communities. Sr. Jane, like so many other sisters, are solving some of the serious development challenges facing Africa today. All they need is more training to create an even bigger impact.

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This article is addressing the following UN Sustainable Development Goal(s):

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Sister Jane Perpetual Chitete, SCO

SLDI Alumna and HESA Participant - Malawi  

Kim Scalese

Administrative Specialist  

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