Eritreans have a new name for cookstoves: the ‘Saviour stove’

Desey Tsehaye and her grandson with their brand new ‘Saviour’ cookstove, complete with smoke funnel.

Desey is a 47-year-old grandmother who lives out in the Eritrean desert, south of the capital city Asmara. It is a forbidding landscape of rock and mountain, which has been almost completely deforested.

Desey and her family were forced to buy firewood everyday, simply to cook and feed herself and her family, spending a lot of money in the process. The traditional stove also produced a lot of smoke, causing eye problems and headaches from the fumes.

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Local women helping to construct the stoves.

Then an improved cook stove was installed in her house through Vita and CO2balance’s fuel efficient cook stove project. The stove used much less firewood, saving the women and girls time, money and drudgery collecting firewood.

As such, they have taken to calling it the ‘Saviour stove’ (Adhenet in the Tigrinya local language).

Despite this success however, when Desey was invited to participate in the project she was initially reluctant: When I was invited to have a stove my mother had just died and I told Vita that I was grieving and not in the frame of mind to have this new kind of stove.”

But thankfully she came round: “They offered to construct it for me. Once it was built I really blessed them. Now I see that this stove is a precious item that everyone should have. I’m telling all my friends and neighbours about the benefits of it of this stove.”

Now she has no need to need to buy firewood – twigs and leaves are enough fuel for her improved stove. Her family has saved money, which they spend on a buying a wider variety of food for their family and making improvements to their home. Their former smoke problems are also a thing of the past, as the improved cook stove uses a handy chimney so there is no smoke indoors.

 

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Local women enjoying their training in stove maintenance.

CO2balance and Vita worked closely with the local women’s association in the village to engage women in the project and train them in stove maintenance.

This has proved very successful and helped build grassroots support and interest in the Saviour stoves, ensuring that they remain in good condition and reap the rewards for many years to come.

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ETHIOPIA EFFICIENT COOKSTOVE PROJECT: STORIES FROM THE FIELD

Meet Mahlet Gebrie .

Mahlet (28) lives with her husband and three young children (aged 3-9) in Birbir town in Mirab Abaya woredas. She is amongst the many unemployed high school graduates in the area. The only income earned is by her husband from hard daily labor, roughly 30 ETB/day (approx. 82p), which is insufficient to cover the basic necessities for the family, including food, clothing, medication, school fees and equipment.

In 2017 co2balance with Vita (an Irish NGO working on the ground in Ethiopia) launched an improved cookstove carbon-offset project in Mirab Abaya and Chencha woredas.

As well as displacing carbon emissions, our projects also support the local economy and empower women in the project country, tackling key developmental hindrances. As such, the project provided technical training to two local women’s enterprise groups, teaching them how to construct improved cookstoves. The project also provided financial and management training, teaching the women well-rounded, transferable skills. Following training and support, their production capacity increased from 10 to 40 stoves a day.

The Bemenet Mirt Improved Cookstove Producing Enterprise during production.

One of the enterprises is ‘Bemenet Mirt Improved Cookstove Producing Enterprise’ that comprises of 10 previously unemployed women. Overall, the enterprise has supplied over 2000 improved cookstoves on a subsidised system. With a rate of 180 ETB percook stove (approx. £4.80), the enterprise has earned a gross income of 360,000 ETB (approx. £9770.00). Mahlet has been elected as the chair of this enterprise, managing the women and finances. Mahlet and the other women members share the dividend monthly, earning a monthly income.

The project has changed Mahlet and her family’s lives, providing a secure job, training and income. Outside of her duty in the enterprise, she has progressed with her education, and has graduated with a diploma in business administration. The additional income has allowed her family to build a new, beautiful house, which they have wanted to do for a long time. Mahlet and her husband are now leading a successful life, able to afford food, medication when needed, clothes and school uniforms and equipment for her children.

Mahlet and the Enterprise are now planning for the future and aim to purchase a vehicle to offer cookstove distribution services, as well as exploring the possibility of expanding the enterprises’ activities to include the production of bricks for the construction of buildings in the local community.    

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

In 2016 the UN launched SDGs, a set of 17 measurable goals which together form a global call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030.

The project contributes to many of the SDGs, in particular:

Our improved cookstove projects have a range of positive impacts, not only to the project beneficiaries who receive the stoves, but to women who, through support from the project, produce the cookstoves for distribution.

Progress in Eritrea

Since the beginning of our work in Eritrea, working together with our project partner we have moved quickly to develop a number of fantastic community-led projects across the country.

Early this year, the team completed their work guiding local communities in building sustainable improved cook stoves. More than 3600 stoves have been constructed in less than two years – a fantastic achievement – and the knowledge and experience that has been passed on is invaluable.

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Late last year work began on borehole projects based in Zoba Debub, the southern region in Eritrea. There are plans to rehabilitate broken down boreholes in more than 100 villages with many already fixed, and work together with the communities to maintain the boreholes and ensure access to clean, safe water for many years to come.

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Both of these projects have huge impacts on the prosperity of local communities as their health improves and they reduce the money spent and time collecting both firewood and water. We will continue with our work this year to ensure as many people as possible benefit.

Eritrea site visit

This month I was lucky enough to be able to visit the fantastic projects that are being implemented in partnership with Vita, an Irish NGO. Vita are working with communities across the country to build capacity and work towards sustainable livelihoods, building efficient cook stoves and rehabilitating non-functioning boreholes.

Below are a selection of photos from my visit:

 

Witnessing some of the harsh climatic conditions first-hand highlighted the need for the efficient use of resources and these projects make a huge contribution to support rural communities.

I am incredibly grateful to the team in Eritrea for hosting me and showing me the ongoing work in a fascinating country during my time there. Yikenyelna!

 

Feasibility Assessment in Zambia

Many community members are very satisfied with the provision of clean and safe drinking water from our projects.  Following the repair of rural boreholes, we receive comments like this one: “We have no more stomach problems or frequent cases of typhoid” says one man months after the rehabilitation of his village borehole.

co2balance and Vita are currently  enabling clean water development in East African countries like Eritrea and Ethiopia. Wanting to expand the impact of their successful water projects, Vita and co2balance are now looking at starting further activities in Zambia.

To get a first  impression of the situation on the ground, co2balance Director Mark Simpson and Vita’s Head of Programmes John Gilliland recently visited the Southern African country.

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Meeting with potential partners as well as viewing broken and repaired boreholes, co2balance and Vita are building contacts and assessing the potential for new projects – capable of improving rural livelihoods and reducing carbon emissions.

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We will keep you posted…!

 

 

Project Visit

Last month, I returned from a trip to Ethiopia and Kenya where I was able to see projects that are in their infancy but also some of our well-established projects. It was great to see people’s enthusiasm for the projects with the expectation that the projects would make a measurable difference in their lives but also be able to talk to people that have experienced a change and who express their appreciation.

In Ethiopia I attended stakeholder meetings for 5 new projects that are being established together with one of our project partners. It was fantastic to see how professional and thorough the team were in organising the meetings but also how engaged the local communities and also local government were in the work that is planned for the area.

In Kenya, I visited our projects in Meru and close to the coast around Shimba Hills. The contrast in the landscapes and experience from the two different parts of the country was striking, from the fertile soils around Mount Kenya to the vast plains around Kasigau, near Shimba Hills, both were incredible! As always I was impressed by the relationship that our field staff have built with the communities since the project was established and their knowledge of the local area.

I want to say a big thank you, ameseginalehu and asante to both teams for the trip; it is one I will remember!

6 New Borehole Projects Listed in Eritrea

In Eritrea Co2balance and Vita are expanding in developing borehole rehabilitation offset projects. Adding to existing activities in the Maekel and Anseba District, 6 projects in the Southern District of Debub have just been listed with the Gold Standard. The projects will deliver access to clean drinking water for several dozen villages over a minimum of 7 years.

The local stakeholder meeting was held in Mendefera in May, bringing together 70 representatives of local and regional administration, water departments, WASH Committees and community members.

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Responses to the project were overwhelmingly positive, exhibiting a strong desire to get started as soon as possible. The communities engaged in the consultation showed a strong desire for the rehabilitation of their boreholes and a real interest in contributing to ensure long-term maintenance.

“Water is Life”, is a common saying among the stakeholders. Currently, however, access to this valuable resource is limited by inadequate water quality, requiring people to live with the negative health consequences or to boil their water. Using wood fuel is common practice, but deforestation and soil erosion have become significant problems in many areas.

Vita and co2balance will be identifying and start repairing boreholes this month in order to ensure access to clean water as soon as possible and to reduce the need for wood fuel use within the largely rural district.

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