Stories & impact

Stabilisation of Traditional Stoves in Burkina Faso

  • Date
    April 10, 2024
  • Country
    Burkina Faso
  • Project coordinators
    Jean-Paul Koudougou, Association Culturelle Passaté (ACP)
  • Collaborators
    International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH)

Nestled in Kaya, Burkina Faso, the Museum of Traditional Stoves stands as a testament to the evolution of cooking practices, showcasing the significant shift from open fires to closed stoves. This journey highlights our ancestors' innovation and adaptability, marking a critical advancement in the efficient use of fire and iron. The museum, more than a collection of artifacts, underscores human ingenuity in evolving from simple to more sophisticated methods of stove construction, reflecting a rich heritage of craftsmanship.

Kaya, the museum’s home, is renowned for its lineage of master blacksmiths and their deep knowledge of metallurgy. The museum serves not only as a space for preserving these traditional stoves but also as a vibrant center for exchanging knowledge. It stands as a symbol of pride for Kaya and Burkina Faso, celebrating the unique contributions of its community to a broader cultural heritage. Annually, local blacksmith families and international researchers gather to share insights, bridging traditional techniques with modern science, thereby ensuring the continuity of this cultural practice.

However, Kaya faces devastating challenges, including humanitarian crises exacerbated by conflicts, disasters, and the COVID-19 pandemic. These adversities have impacted local life and the preservation of cultural heritage, with the traditional stoves particularly vulnerable to damage from extreme weather conditions. Without intervention, the stoves were at risk of being lost forever.

In response, we worked with the Association Culturelle Passaté (ACP), with the support of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH), in emergency preservation efforts, demonstrating a commitment to cultural and socio-economic development in the region. With the leadership of Mr. Jean-Paul Koudougou, efforts focused on rebuilding and protecting the stoves, enhancing museum security, and resuming educational initiatives. This collaborative project involved local communities, including an encouraging participation of women in roles traditionally held by men and the inclusion of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), utilizing their unique skills and knowledge.

During this first phase of the project, in addition to the involvement of this local expertise, one of the strong points is the involvement of women in the reconstruction of the stoves. Until now, this was an activity reserved only for men, but we were pleasantly surprised to see women getting involved because they feel that it is also their duty to work to safeguard this technological heritage.

Jean-Paul Koudougou, project coordinator

The project's outcomes were significant, with numerous stoves rebuilt or rehabilitated, protective measures implemented, and educational activities resumed, highlighting a commitment to preserving cultural heritage while fostering inclusivity and community engagement.

This initiative reflects a broader commitment to protecting cultural heritage amid challenges, emphasizing the importance of community involvement and the transmission of knowledge across generations. The efforts in Kaya demonstrate resilience and a shared dedication to preserving a vital aspect of Burkina Faso's cultural identity for future generations.

For this joint and coordinated project in Burkina Faso, we are grateful for the collaboration and contributions to our strategic partner ALIPH. Cultural Emergency Response has also worked closely and continuously with the ALIPH to support local actors in Asia and Africa to protect cultural heritage endangered by conflict.