I have recently returned from a visit to Kenya, where I spent some time with our team visiting some freshly repaired cookstoves in our project close to the Aberdares National Park. Our CZK stoves are renowned for being robust, however, if stove owners come across issues, they can communicate with our project officers who will arrange a repair if required. As all of our improved cookstoves are built locally, we are able to ensure availability of parts and also the skills required to fit them throughout the lifetime of the project.
I spoke to a number of owners after they had their stoves repaired, and it was great to hear first- hand about how the CZK stove has been of benefit to them. Of course, it is important that an improved stove saves wood and reduces indoor air pollution, but an oft-mentioned additional benefit was that because our stove retains heat, it needs less tending. This means that the cook (usually the wife or mother) can multi-task – which is an important advantage when looking after your smallholder farm, collecting water and raising a family all need to be squeezed into your day. Rachel Njeri told me how she puts the CZK stove on a low heat and heads off to tend to her cows on her small dairy farm and returns to a ready meal. With the traditional stove, she had to come back to it a couple of times to check to the fire, so she says that using the CZK has freed up some much needed time for her.
After visiting stove owners, we stopped off to visit a primary school to chat to the headmaster Joseph Njuna about the challenges his school faces. The school was eerily quiet, as teachers across the country are on strike following the Government’s refusal to honour a Supreme Court ruling granting them a negotiated 50-60% pay rise. The pay of Kenyan teachers – as in many other countries – is inversely proportion to the importance of their contribution to society, so lets hope the matter is resolved with the right result and pupils can resume their education soon.
Despite the strike, Joseph came in especially to meet us and we learned that public (non fee paying) schools like his have limited and erratic government funding and often rely on parents chipping in if the budget runs too tight. Technology such as improved institutional cookstoves and solar panels will help schools like Joseph’s manage their finances better by reducing their major outgoings. We are very hopeful to start attracting support for this kind of added impact within our projects over the coming months.
Overall – and as usual – it was an excellent visit and I would like to thank Moses, Charles, Virginia, Lilian and Martin (pictured) for their tireless hard work on our projects and for making me feel very welcome.