Cooking on a three stone stove is the cheapest way to prepare food in many parts of the world. This is because to assemble a three stone stove you only require three suitable stones of the same height on which a cooking pot is balanced over a fire. That’s how cheap the stove is. This make many families across the word especially in Africa fall for them.
Ok cheap is expensive, many say so and indeed even in the cooking sector this turns out to be true. The seemingly cheap stove on the contrary has many problems:
- The inefficient transfer of energy requires the user to use more wood fuel, increasing the amount of wood harvested from the surrounding environment. The increased demand for wood can further deplete the already stressed local natural environment.
- Smoke is vented into the home, instead of outdoors, causing health problems.
- Only one cooking pot can be used at a time.
- The use of an open fire creates a risk of burns and scalds. Especially when the stove is used indoors, cramped conditions make adults and particularly children susceptible to falling or stepping into the fire and receiving burns.
The World Health Organization has documented a significant number of deaths caused by smoke from home fires. The negative impacts of such a process of cooking can be reduced by using improved cook stoves.
In Kaptagat in the vast Rift Valley Region of Kenya we visit one of the Co2balance improved cook stove beneficiaries Alice Kiplimo who tells us “Tangu nipewe hii jiko nimefurahia sana kwa sababu inafanya kazi harakana inatumia kuni chache(since I was given this stove five years ago it cooks faster and also consumes less wood”. She adds that because of its efficiency on wood usage it saves her time and in that she is able to do other activities that are incomes generating promoting the living standards of her family. For instance the time she would use going to collect firewood in the forest she tends her small piece of land with passion fruits that when ripe gives her up to 200/- per kilo, and she makes up to 15 – 20 kilos per week.
In her explanation she manages to clearly exhibit how the improved Co2balance stove has not only helped her change her cooking conditions but how the stove has changed her life as a whole. She says that before receiving the improved cook stove from Co2balance she used to use a three stove which consumed excess wood not allowing her have any extra time for any other activity; she basically would spend all her free time in the forest looking for firewood. However after getting the Co2balance improved cook stove which uses less fuel she has had many benefits; reduce wood fuel consumption by almost a half, improved health – more coughing like before, less time spent searching for wood etc. She explains how the improved stove has freed her allowing her function fully being her family’s bread-winner being able to invest in her farm planting passion fruits and having time to manage the fruits well. And as a single mother of two this has helped get earn an income which is helping her sustain her family.
With this living story it’s now possible to see the bigger picture and realize that improved cook stoves are not just for cooking. They change lives beyond cooking.
Over the years Co2balance has been a front runner in improving access to affordable and reliable energy services for cooking in developing countries. And it’s on this basis that it has invested in over 67,000 improved cook stoves distributed across Kenya and still seeks to partner with like minded organizations to reach many more families which are still in dire need for an improved cook stove because it understands that it’s not just about cooking.
Co2balance as a project developer started borehole rehabilitation in the Lango sub region located in the northern part of Uganda in 2013 with the repair of 41 boreholes spread out in the districts of Alebtong, Otuke, Kole and Dokolo in a bid to provide clean safe water to these communities.
water collection from an unprotected spring
One of the old sources before rehabs
By the end of 2016, in an expansion drive, the number of boreholes rehabilitated rose to 61 with an additional 40 boreholes added in 2016 alone. This has increased access to clean safe water for many households who before the rehabilitation were using unsafe water sources like ponds, open wells among others.
Old rusty pipes to be replaced
New plastic pipes to replace old metalic pipes
In addition to the borehole rehabilitation, a Water Sanitation and Health (WASH) sensitization was carried out to educate the community on the importance of keeping their environment clean by fencing the borehole, cleaning it, keeping animals and waste away from it and above all maintaining the safe water chain from borehole to domestic storage. These good hygiene practices coupled with the clean water from these boreholes help eradicate waterborne diseases like typhoid, diarrhea, and dysentery and also reduces the risk of cholera outbreaks.
WASH sensitizations for the rehabilitated borehole
WASH training in progress
Water quality testing which is a standard procedure and requirement by the national water authorities was carried out in the rehabilitated boreholes since they have not been in use for a while. This was to ensure that the water from these boreholes meet the required standards, pass the set parameters and are suitable for human consumption. All the boreholes tested passed the tests and are therefore safe for the community.
A BIG thank you
Approximately three billion people across the globe cook every day using open, three-stone fires or rudimentary traditional stoves. Cooking with these traditional cook stoves is inefficient and grossly polluting, harming health and the environment, and contributing to global warming. In many places worldwide, women must walk for hours to collect firewood, risking their safety and sacrificing energy and time that could be used to earn a living. While often overlooked as a major contributor to the global burden of disease, cooking over open fires indoors is the largest environmental health risk in developing countries i.e. Kenya.
In Kenya the case is not different, many households can relate with the simple and accessible mode of cooking. For decades, women have been using this cooking style not knowing the danger that they expose themselves to.
To curb these menace Carbon Zero has developed various improved cook stove models that suit the needs of different local communities with higher efficiencies that have been able to cut down on the amount of fuel used and reducing the time spent cooking allowing women some free time to engage in other income generating activities. Carbon Zero stoves have enabled women to cook with less than a half of the wood they used to use on wasteful three stone fires and in much less time. This saves lives because less wood means less smoke and thus less disease.
In the Western part of Kenya in Kisumu Carbon Zero has distributed over 10,000 improved cook stoves. Among the stove models distributed in the area was a brick rocket stove that locals have over time complimented for its good service. The rocket stove was the first cook stove to be built in Kisumu East region as part of the pilot project to be used in the rural settlement, where wood used for cooking had led to the immense deforestation of trees. The liner effect on the stove creates a highly efficient, largely smoke-free burn.
Mrs. Abigael Awour who is 65 years old lives in Rapogi village in Kisumu county were she has been married for the past 35 years and stays with her daughter and 2 grand children. She is a beneficiary of the rocket stove and we seek to get her opinion on the stove after using it for the last four or so years. With a smile she narrates that “Before receiving the brs cook stove, I had the traditional three stone open fire cook stove, which consumed a lot of fuel and I had to cut down most of the trees I planted so that I could sustain my family. I stay with my grand children who are very young which means I had to cook several meals a day and it was devastating because it was time consuming, very expensive, I also developed health complications, severe back pains and was on a lot of painkillers because I had to bend while cooking since the stove is practically on the ground and cannot be raised.”
She further adds that “After receiving the Rocket Stove I have seen a lot of changes especially in matters that deal with health because I no longer cough a lot due to the smoke reduction since I dry my wood completely and my back pain is no longer severe. The stove was done by professionals who considered all ages; I can now sit down and cook comfortably without straining, save money since I don’t need too much drugs for the back pain, now I have time to do farming and from the savings from firewood I buy maize seeds. Also the stoves retain heat so I only cook twice a day and leave the food warm on the stove for anyone to consume. Now it’s not necessary to cut down a tree to cook, all you need is a few small branches. Energy saving stoves are of great importance to our community, says Rhoda, one of the youth volunteers on the project. The stove saves a lot of energy and money because less firewood has to be collected or purchased. It also cooks faster so women have more time to engage in other income-generating activities and it is more hygienic than the traditional model. The stoves have greatly improved our living standards and for me the rocket stove form Carbon Zero is the best thing that ever happened to women in Rapogi.”
Compiled by Christine Atira and Moses Maina
“My name is Omara George aged 49 and I live in Dokolo District. I am a user of the Aminoleke borehole that was rehabilitated by co2balance in 2013. Before the borehole was fixed, my family used to walk long distances in search of water and would collect it from the swamps because the only alternative source was too far away. Having a large family meant we had to collect water twice a day to meet our needs. I was also afraid that my wife and daughters could be attacked or raped while they were collecting water especially during the evening hours since we still had rebel activities in our village. The water we drank was always dirty and I worried my children would become sick with typhoid or other water borne diseases that are common in this area. Our lives have improved so much since the borehole was repaired; the water yield is always good and clean, and most of all I am happy because my family are safe and have more time for going to school and the farm. We are very happy with the project and grateful for all the help you have provided us.”
“My name is Ogwang Paul, I am 11 years old and I fetch water from Atek B borehole. I am happy that we now have a borehole close to our house that provides clean water. We no longer have to go to the lake to fetch water like before. I used to wake up at 5am and go with my siblings to fetch water before going to school. This greatly affected my studies because we were always late for school and missed the first lessons. This greatly affected our performance in school. Now that we have a working borehole close to us, we can fetch water and get to school on time. I want to be a doctor when I grow up.”
Purency Altero Okori aged 60 is a resident of Akwangi village and a user of Akwangi borehole which was rehabilitated and is being maintained by co2balance.
“I live a few meters away from the borehole and this has made my daily life easy. I am able to do my housework on time and still go to the market and attend to my stall where I sell vegetables to earn some extra income for my family. I no longer have to boil the water we drink as the water collected from the borehole is clean and safe since water treatment is done frequently. That means I no longer collect so much firewood for use at home.”
“My name is Adongo Fiona, I am 13 years old and I study in Telela Primary school. I am in level 3 and my best subject is science. I want to be a nurse when I finish school. I am happy for this borehole because I no longer have to travel long distances to collect water for our household. We no longer suffer from diseases like diarrhea and typhoid because the water is clean.
Thank you for this water.”
The effective operation of boreholes is very much dependent on the communities that own the boreholes as they are seen as the very first custodians of these facilities. Co2balance contracts a project partner/officer to be an engagement representative within the community. Each month our project representative is required to conduct basic checks on each borehole to see if they are in good condition. They also continue to engage with the community to ensure that they are observing good hygiene practices and using the pumps in a sustainable manner.
Usually water fetched from a properly clean and maintained borehole is safe for human consumption without the need for boiling but if this water fails the safe water chain test, then it can cause lots of illnesses to people. If people fail to use clean containers for their drinking water, they face the threat of getting water borne diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid among others.
During the monthly routine visits, apart from checking on the mechanical conditions of the boreholes, our project partners/officers also check that the borehole surroundings are kept clean, no human activities are going on at/around the borehole, no animals are accessing the source, use of clean water collection containers by the community among others. This is to ensure that the community maintains a high level of sanitation and hygiene and that the water collected from the borehole is safe up to the very last drop used in the household.
Here are some photos from this month’s routine visits.
Maintaining clean, safe water remains one of our greatest national and global challenges and responsibilities……… Jerry Costello
With new technology comes better ways of life. Human beings and energy are inseparable. How to sustainably utilize the various energy sources is still a 21st century challenge yet to be properly countered.
Among many rural households wood is the common energy source. It is utilized significantly for rural domestic cooking. In Kasighau division in Voi district this is not an exception. From the ancestors to the current occupants wood fuel as been greatly utilized for domestic cooking. Over the years there as been a rise of population in the division. This as been caused due to immigration in the area in for people to exploit the different precious stones found within the locality. The rise in population can also be attributed to natural increase in birth rate among the local residents. As a result of increase in population there as been over exploitation of wood fuel. All the house holds initially utilised the three stone traditional jiko. This stove is wood wasteful. During cooking a lot of wood was normally consumed with the stove. A lot of fire flames were normally lost since the jiko could not concentrate the flames to the cooking pot. This led to women spending a lot of time in cooking and collecting wood. Many are times when the children slept hungry because they could not wait for long hours while the dinner was being prepared. They could be out won by sleep during the cooking process with the three stone traditional jiko.
Their being a savior in every calamity the donation of fuel efficient Carbon Zero stove (shown in the above picture) to the locals was really timely. The stoves were like an antidote that neutralized the wood crisis which had started to set pace in the area. Now there is all smiles in the face of the women in the locality. With the Carbon Zero stove the women now utilize less time for cooking since the carbon Zero stove concentrates the fire flames to the cooking pot and retains heat within it for a long period. The amount of wood also utilized by the stove is far less compared with the traditional three stove jiko. Since they require little wood cooking with the modern Carbon Zero stove the women in the locality utilize significantly less time for collecting it.
Not only is the stove user friendly but it is also environmental friendly. Over the years that the stove as been in utilization the locals have realized an increase in tree cover in the area. Apart from community sensitization on the need for adopting afforestation programmes in the locality this can also be highly attributed to adoption of fuel efficient Carbon Zero stove for all day to day cooking. The area categorized as an ASAL area is now being endowed with a vast trees cover. Thanks to the conservation King, Carbon Zero stove.
Rains which were not common in the past now are occasionally experienced in Kasighau. This has greatly been influenced by an increase in tree cover in the locality making the environment a bit green something that was not there five years ago.
Compiled by Kenneth Mukuru, Moses Nyaga and Moses Maina
In our daily work at Carbon Zero we interact with community members using our improved cook stoves. And last week was no different. Our field staffs in Kisumu East were out in the community creating awareness on the usage of the improved stove. While in the field they met a lady by the name Emma Anyango one of the many Carbon Zero improved cook stoves beneficiaries in the area. Speaking to her; she noted that that she is 33 years of age, married with three children.
As we sort to understand from her if the CZK stove has had any impact on her life Emma narrated that ….”Initially, being a house wife, made me depend on my husband who is a water vendor, for financial support. The money he provided was not sufficient to cater for all our needs. He could hardly afford getting us basic needs. Before receiving the improved cook stove from carbon zero Kenya, I used to use the three stone stove which used to consume a lot of fuel. The traditional stove was so wasteful, consuming a lot of fuel.’’
She continued saying……’’ Our village is approximately 7kms from the nearest forest; hence the only way to get fuel is through purchasing in the market. The fuel prices are high and worst they also fluctuate during the rainy season making it difficult to save. I would buy 5 bundles a week which cost me ksh 1000/- and still add some more in the middle of the week and the amount of smoke emitted made me cough and my eyes watery making cooking a pitiable affair. I would spend a lot more taking my three kids to hospital as they were always coughing – respiratory diseases were just too much. Hospital bills were making me and my husband even more poor as time went by.’’
Emma further stated that….’’being a beneficiary of the CZK stove changed my life completely. First, I got to interact with Christine Atira, a regional CZK staff in this area, she held my hand and taught me how to use the stove. She emphasized on climate change issues and the need to protect the environment by proper wood management. The CZK stove uses less fuel wood while retaining heat. Now I buy 2 bundles of wood which cost me kshs 400/= in a week thus saving KES 600/-, money I managed to save overtime and opened up a small shop selling general household items. This has helped us as a family increase our income. Now I no longer depend on my husband for everything, I support him in paying fees for our kids plus catering for other basic needs for our family. With the shop I can afford a decent meal for my kids who are now healthier and even perfuming better in school. All I can say is that let Carbon Zero continue with this initiative to reach out to many more families that are equally suffering. Cooking may sound like a non-issue in a household but it plays a key role in the overall survival of a family. To be sincere Carbon Zero made me a proud African woman. Now my kitchen is very clean and cooking has been made a wonderful experience.’’