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Supporting Community Briquette Groups in Kampala with Seeding Grants

By Paul Mukwaya, Judith Mbabazi, Teddy Kisembo (Urban Action Lab, Makerere University, Kampala)


Above: Briquette Making groups during the seeding event, Photo by GBE, 2021


After two years of successive capacity building activities, trainings, interventions, and knowledge sharing through peer-to-peer learning and exchanges across the entire energy briquettes value chain, (product development, production, business plan development, branding, marketing and promotion), the KNOW Kampala city team held a seeding event on the 22nd January 2021, where seven briquette making groups were handed a 'Seed Grant' in the form of briquette making machine. These machines comprised of a Multi Piston Press, Manual Crusher, Manual Mixer, and a Carbonizer. Each of the seven groups received a set of four machines as part of the Seed Grant.

The groups that received the seed grant included: Daala Ku Daala Prosper Saving Group, Exodus Briquettes Producers’ Group Masanafu, Kamu Kamu Development Association, Kasubi Zone III Briquette Group, Kyosimba Onanya, Masanafu Women Development Association (MWODEA), and Namungoona Women’s Initiative. Also in attendance at the seeding event were representatives from Makerere University, department of Geography, Geo-informatics and climatic sciences, Kasubi Parish Local Community Development Initiative (KALOCODE), and Lubaga Charcoal Briquette Cooperative Society Limited (LUCHACOS), ACTogether Uganda, Slum Dwellers’ International (SDI)/National Slum Dwellers’ Federation Uganda (NSDFU), Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, GreenBioEnergy Limited, and Local council leaders.

Above: Some of the Briquette making machines before handover, Photos by Teddy Kisembo


The KNOW work in Kampala, is focussed on waste economies as alternative livelihood strategies that can integrate the urban poor into the urban economy. Capacity-building has been, and continues to be, the primary theme in Kampala’s programme, geared towards understanding the limitations of urban poor inequalities in accessing the urban economy, as well as the cycles that need to be broken for inclusive urban economic development. Over the course of KNOW, the programme has been implementing a wastes business enterprise model through knowledge co-creation and co-production along the energy briquette value chain.

The implementation of the project is being done through multiple stakeholders including communities KALOCODE and LUCHACOS, ACTogether Uganda, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), policy makers from Ministry of Land, housing and urban development, members from civil-society organisations, and the academia. All these stakeholders have participated in a series of co-design and co-production workshops and are also involved in the co-implementation of the project. Peer-to-peer learning through the co-production of knowledge among the briquette group, has been utilised to prepare their readiness for business start-ups. The other principal theme that the programme is implementing, is ensuring the creation and sustenance of working partnerships with community leadership, academia, and policy makers, that can be used as platforms and spaces for transformative policy discussions and change.

Above: Project partners: Moses Nadiope (LUCHACOS) (left) and Frederick Mugisa (ACTogether) (right), Photos by Teddy Kisembo


Road to Seeding

After creating awareness and co-producing knowledge around the briquette value chain, the groups were tasked with developing and submitting a business plan. The seeding grant was developed in response to a machinery gap that was identified in each of the business plans submitted. The machines will help the groups to increase production and sustain the growing briquette market. The seeding grant will be followed by monitoring and evaluation to assess the value of the machines on the groups’ businesses, environmental impact, economic individual benefits, and the partnerships that have accrued as a pathway for reducing inequalities in some of the informal settlements and across the city.

Group reflection

Before the handover of the machines, the groups took turns to reflect on their experience with the KNOW programme. This included the relevance and impact of capacity-building training, interventions on group dynamics, overall briquette production, waste management and environmental impact, household welfare, partnerships, and policy impact. Below are some of the key reflections provided by the groups:

  1. ACTogether and LUCHACOS commended the way the Urban Action Lab (Makerere University), has worked, and continues to create, co-learning platforms of engagement to draw out, and take part in, issues of sustainable and equitable urban development challenges and urban planning issues towards transformative action. This has occurred with community groups and federation networks in the informal settlements, NGOs, and private sector partners working within the policy realm.

  2. The understanding, appreciation, and acknowledgement of energy briquettes as a community based business enterprise, as well as the role and impact of briquettes on cleaning up the city. “Briquettes have a way of attracting attention, as you make them and as they dry, to even while they are displayed or packaged for sale, someone will always get interested in knowing about them and that’s how many people have started to make and/or use briquettes”, said a member of the Exodus Briquettes Producers group, Masanafu.

  3. The improvement in the quality of briquettes due to the continuous capacity-building along the briquette value chain and the concept of knowledge sharing through peer-to-peer learning and training approach, adopted by the programme. In addition, there has been a shift from charcoal dust as a briquette raw material to exclusively using organic waste materials to make briquettes.

  4. Energy briquettes are competing favourably with wood charcoal. Groups have started to use online platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook to market their briquettes beyond their immediate neighbourhoods. However, to satisfy the growing market for briquettes, groups need to work together to increase production and visibility, attract working partnerships with multiple stakeholders (so as to scale up and scale out the production), and promote energy briquettes as a viable business that can help to increase the incomes of the urban poor in informal settlements, reducing urban inequalities.

  5. The group also reflected on some of the challenges in the briquette business including, the heavy rains accompanied by flooding that affects the drying of both the wastes and briquettes and thus affecting production and marketing; the lack of ground space for drying arising increasing numbers of people and housing units in informal settlements and competition for organic wastes with other sectors.


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