This inspiring story of women in Koudiadiène, 80 km from Dakar, has now spread across the country of Senegal and continent of Africa. Identified by Greenpeace as part of its campaign to promote energy-efficient stoves and renewable energy sources, women of Koudiadiène were trained in the construction of a new design of clay stoves.

Today this easy to learn expertise has spread to all the surrounding villages, much to the advantage of the environment, and delight and well-being of people in these communities.

In February 2011, the Greenpeace team held a training workshop on how to construct these new clay stoves, with 40 women from Koudiadiène. The choice was a carefully made considering the country’s situation -- Koudiadiène still carries the scars of years of drought that hit Senegal in the '70s. Sadly, this makes vegetation a luxury in this part of the world.

Despite this scarcity, wood is the main energy source for women and they often have to travel huge distances to find it.

The training has gone a long way in alleviating the problems that this community was facing. Although they still need firewood, with the use of the new design of clay stoves in their kitchens there has been a dramatic decrease the village’s wood consumption.

The socio-cultural changes were equally as dramatic and rapid. Now the women have much more time to engage in other activities, while simultaneously undertaking environmental protection. They have reduced the pressure on islands of vegetation surrounding the community.

"Before the arrival of the stoves, I was using a lot of wood to cover my needs. Now, with very little wood, we can prepare lunch and dinner," says Madeleine Tine, one of the trainees. “In my free time, instead of fetching wood, I spend more time with my family and have time to go to work which gives me more income to contribute to buying school supplies and even to the health fees."

This amazing story does not end here; the women of Koudiadiene became peer educators and continued to lead the battle against desertification in their community by increasing the number of new design clay stoves used in the area.

The manufacture of clay stoves is not only an environmental plus and a bonus for social change but also brings economic advantage to this community. The women have begun a business venture in which they make use of this technology and skill to manufacture units for women from the surrounding villages of Thiaoune, Lalane, Keur Ndiakahte and Keur Masse.

With big smiles on their faces, these women know that they have hit the jackpot -- a way in which to protect our precious natural resources, while bringing about much needed social and economic change to communities that need it the most. It is no wonder that this story continues to resonate across the continent of Africa and Greenpeace hopes that this great example will be embraced by many more communities such as this one.

Philippe is a trained social worker, educator specializing in working with street children. He has been a Greenpeace volunteer since 2010; he received training on renewable energy at the World Social Forum in Dakar in 2011. Since then, he promotes renewable solar energy in villages, communities and schools on behalf of the Greenpeace office in Dakar, Senegal.