Most of the world’s people live at or below the poverty line especially from the developing world. That means that they either don’t have the money to buy even the most basic things, like food or shelter, or they have just enough to keep surviving from day to day. They spend most of their time working in the fields or otherwise earning their daily bread, which they must then cook over traditional three stone stoves.
It takes a lot of hard labour and time to find, cut, and carry back the wood that’s used for cooking, and this job takes up a major part of the day for women and girls thus denying them time to engage in other vital activities i.e. income generating activities.
Cooking over open fires on traditional stoves is also bad for the health. When burned, wood don’t combust fully, or get burnt, completely. As a result gases are given off that are toxic to people and bad for the environment. Such gases include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur oxide, and organic compounds. This ‘incomplete combustion’ also releases tiny particles of matter into the air, which are so small that they can be breathed-in by people and animals. When inhaled, they get lodged in the respiratory tract, and help cause a disease called ‘acute respiratory infection’. Acute Respiratory Infection is the leading cause of illness in developing nations. Unfortunately, most of the people in developing nations don’t have money for health care. It is estimated that air pollution caused by inefficient stoves leads to 4.3 million premature deaths each year – more than those from malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids.
In Kenya the case is not different either. Many families rely on wood cook stoves in their day-to-day cooking activities an efficient cook stove is needed for the purpose. From dawn to dusk cooking activities and others like firewood collection dominate the better part of the day. It is therefore a relieve on those responsible for these activities especially women and girls with the use of carbon zero stove as it minimizes wood usage, produces less smoke which is good to the environment and to our health too.
As we traverse the villages of the project area in Kaptagat region where Carbon Zero has distributed about 16000 cook stoves we meet beneficiaries of Carbon Zero Stoves who are happy to narrate their transformation stories.
The stoves have gone a long way, increasing savings from wood purchase and conserving the environment by reducing air pollution which in turn affects on weather patterns. As we also visit the nearby health center within the project area, we find that chronic respiratory diseases e.g. coughs, allergies and eye irritations especially in children have reduced drastically over time since the distribution of the improved energy cook stoves by Carbon Zero which gives the project a plus in its activities in the region.
With proper use and maintenance, the Carbon Zero stove has been shown to reduce fuel use by 40 to 50%. This means less wood is burned thus fewer trees have to be cut down. This also means less labor in looking for and chopping firewood. The stove also reduces emissions from incomplete combustion, such as toxic gases and particulate matter, resulting in better overall health of the users.
Several beneficiaries among them Mrs. Chumo a mother of five is among those who lead the community in sensitizing on the Carbon Zero cook stove usage as it brings forth many benefits. She says, “Kila wakati ninapoenda kwenye mikutano na hakikisha kuwa watu wanaelewa matumizi ya hizi jiko”. She continues to explain that in her village every household maximizes its usage as they have now realized that it greatly minimizes wood usage and saved time from forest travels is spent on other useful activities by both children and adults.
Compiled by; Samuel Kiplimo, Virginia Njata and Moses Maina