In DRC, Where Plastic is Used as Kindling, One Man Offers a Healthier Alternative

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In Kisangani, a city in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Tshopo Province, many people use plastic and other debris to start fires, which poses risks to their health and the environment. To solve this problem, a local man is now selling an environmentally-friendy solution he calls mobobe.

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Francine Bakumu attempts to start a cooking fire to prepare the day’s meals with a piece of clothing and oil, which, along with plastic, are often the only materials available to use to build a fire. The smoke from these fires is damaging to people’s health and the environment. This practice prompted Lambert Nsala, a local man, to create an environmentally-friendly alternative.

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Lambert Nsala sits in his workshop in downtown Kisangani, a city in Democratic Republic of Congo, making mobobe, an environmentally-friendly kindling option. Many households use mobobe to burn fires instead of plastic, creating a shortage of the product since Nsala prepares it manually.

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Mobobe is made of sawdust pressed into cylindrical shapes, allowing them to catch fire easily. Nsala sells a box of 10 or 15 pieces for 500 Congolese francs (about 31 cents) each, but this price is unaffordable to many people in the community, who continue to use plastic bags that they can find everywhere for free.

Ndahayo Sylvestre, GPJ, translated the article from French.