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Women in Warrap learn how to turn cow dung into charcoal

Plentiful cow dung may soon be turned into charcoal, with many positive spin-off effects.

Cattle feces may not be very appealing, yet they can, in fact, be highly useful. Just ask a group of hundred women in the Greater Warrap area, who are learning how to turn cow dung into charcoal. Increased security and improved inter-communal relations may be added bonuses.

The skill training, brought to Kuajok by the Civil Affairs Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan and the local ministry of rural development, water and cooperatives, is the first of its kind. No longer shall cow feces be left to go to waste.

“We can bring soil, grass and small charcoal dust and mix it and merge it together and we dry it, then we can call those teaching us to see it,” says Adau Mayol, a cattle farmer in the Kuajok area.

The production of charcoal from fresh cow manure provides women in cattle camps a time-saving, ecologically sustainable alternative to the chopping down and carrying of firewood. It also means that women would be less exposed to the hazards, most notably sexual assaults, sadly associated with long walks looking for timber. As such, the excremental method has been declared acceptable by the Dinka community.

Most of the participating women welcomed the training and assured that they will apply the technique, describing it as a way to increase their purchasing power as well. But skeptics exist.

“Now some people are not yet convinced and are likely to say that this training is a waste of time,” Adau concedes, but adds that the tide can easily turn:

“If we participants can do it well, people will get curious and more women will join.”

While utterly surprised by the newfound use of cow dung, Jong Anthony Deng, a local minister of rural government and cooperatives, was quick to embrace the idea. In fact, Mr. Deng believes that the phenomenon can contribute to peaceful coexistence between cattle keepers and community members who do not own cattle, as both groups can benefit from bovine waste products.

“If cattle women adopt the idea, people in the former Gogrial East areas can utilize the dung from the Aguok, Kuac, and Awan cattle, when cattle keepers from former Gogrial West migrate to Toch grazing areas,” the visionary minister told the participants.