More than half of the world’s population—three billion people—cooks their food indoors using open fires or rudimentary stoves. Indoor burning of solid fuels releases toxic pollutants including particulate matter and carbon monoxide. These harmful cooking practices cause an estimated 1.9 million premature deaths annually (Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, 2010). As the household members most likely to cook family meals, women and children are most affected. The reliance on biomass fuels in developing nations has put considerable pressure not just on the safety of families, but on the environment as well, increasing both deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.
In developing countries, families who rely upon wood for cooking have three ways of obtaining it. They can scavenge the areas where they live for firewood, purchase it from a firewood dealer, or grow their own. In most villages there is a lack of harvestable firewood in the surrounding area, and so most of the wood used is brought into the village and sold through a dealer. Those who cannot afford to buy firewood are often forced to travel several miles to acquire wood. Some families albeit few have obtained self-sufficiency by maintaining a living fence, or growing a woodlot near the family home.
Lucy Akinyi is from Nyagbongo village, Kadero sub location in Kisumu East in Western Kenya where Carbon Zero is implementing an efficient cook stove project with over 10,000 cook stoves distributed. She is a mother of seven and a widow who is the main bread winner for her family. Lucy Akinyi immensely thanks carbon zero for giving her an improved cook stove that makes her work easier and cheap everyday in her life. She says that before getting the Carbon Zero stove she had been colonized by the three stone stoves, which compelled to spend a lot of time looking for firewood.She couldn’t get time to do anything else – she became a slave to the traditional stove!
But now with the Carbon Zero stove she spends less time in the forests looking for fuel, the time she saves she is able to use it on farming activities. This has enabled her farm for both subsistence and commercial thus being able to get income to sustain her family and even take her kids to school. She says that the three stone stove was like a beast, consuming firewood so fast and demanding for more. This made her spend a lot of time looking for firewood hence not able o engage in income generating activities.
Lucy Akinyi says that carbon zero stoves cook very fast and uses less firewood giving her time to engage in other activities, which was a very different case before she got the Carbon Zero stove. She is glad that ever since she started using the carbon zero stove, her farm produce has immensely increased since she has had enough time to maintain her farm.
Compiled by Nancy Machasio, Christine Atira and Moses Maina