Wonderbag offers slow-cooking with right ingredients for developing world | Liz Ford

From Aid | The Guardian Wed Jan 2 2013, 07:00:02

Cooking bag has cut energy consumption and saved money for households in South Africa, but can it transform lives of women?

On her way to the Rio+20 summit last June, Sarah Collins dropped into the Guardian offices to talk about the Wonderbag - an insulated cooking bag she has created to reduce energy consumption and cooking time, and give women who do the majority of cooking more time to do other things.

So how does the Wonderbag work? Quite simply, you bring your meat stew, curry or rice to the boil on a regular stove and then seal the pot in the Wonderbag for a few hours to continue cooking. The bag is a more "dignified" version of pit cooking, says Collin, who launched Wonderbag in South Africa in 2008.

According to the Wonderbag website, by the middle of 2012, 500,000 bags had been distributed in South Africa alone, with the potential to save 250,000 tonnes of carbon a year. Collins, who has a background in community-based eco-tourism and environmental conservation in Africa, wants to extend availability to up to 15 other countries by 2015. When she was in London, she said she was in talks to roll out her bag in Nigeria, Rwanda and Kenya, and had parts of south-east Asia in her sights.

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