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.
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.
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.
Carbon Zero Kenya Limited though not so pronounced remains a huge player in environmental conservation initiatives in Africa for instance considering its efforts to combat effects of climate change in Kenya. Over the past few years Carbon Zero has helped install over 65,000 cook stoves in the country which have gone a long way in reducing wood use and thus emission reductions. Among the many beneficiaries of Carbon Zero improved energy efficient cook stoves in Kenya are members of Kasighau location in Taita-Taveta district of Coast province. Kasigau location is a semi-arid land with magnificent Kasighau hills.
Since the installation of Carbon Zero stoves many benefits have been realized by the stove beneficiaries and the general community at large. Before the distribution of Carbon Zero stoves locals here used the three stone fires. As a result their kitchens were marred with smoke. These smoke kept men from these kitchens leaving women to “die” alone. Kids would occasionally come in either to help with a few kitchen chores or to get a share of their meals. The male partner (husbands) completely avoided the place and their share of the meal could be taken and consumed away from the kitchen. This was because the kitchen was always filled with irritating smoke and ash.
The smoky, ash filled kitchen could not be tolerated by the African man (husband) who is, according to the traditional and cultural perspective, superior in the family and his role in the family, being equated with that of a king. In Kasighau location we meet Mzee Muinde’s family and listened to their story before and after getting the carbon zero stoves, what has changed and how, what has been their experience etc.
After installation of Carbon Zero stoves the situation has drastically changed. There has been an increase in the involvement of male family members in kitchen cooking chores. This is because cooking has become easy and convenient for them. A smokeless kitchen is a major factor for the male family members to be involved. This has made the female members proud and happy as their male counterparts help in the cooking chores as demonstrated by Mrs. Muinde’s story.
Below; Mzee Muinde helping his wife prepare chapatis: An increase in male family members participation on cooking chores has been realized in the area since inception of Carbon Zero stoves.
Below; Mzee Muinde, 3rd from left, in the baraza meeting where he is the baraza’s secretary: unlike in the past, male members in the community can now help in the kitchen chores and still hold their positions in the society.
Based on this encounter, not only is The Carbon Zero Company providing beneficiaries with energy efficient and clean cooking stoves but also impacting their social lives positively. By involvement of the male partners in routine kitchen chores, there is reduction in the kitchen work load which was primarily for women alone. Women have more time to rest and also engage themselves in developmental issues that affect the society. The family harmony and unity is enhanced when the male and female partners co-operate in the kitchen chores. What used to be a social unit in theory is now a social unit practically.
While most governments in Africa acknowledge that empowering women and girls is a key contributor to economic development little as been done to achieve this noble goal. In Kenya women are the backbone of the rural economy. Nevertheless they receive only a fraction of the resources geared at ending poverty i.e. land, credit, inputs (such as improved seeds and fertilizers), agricultural training and information compared to men.
Empowering and investing in rural women has been shown to significantly increase productivity, reduce hunger and malnutrition and improve rural livelihoods not only for women, but for everyone.
With this understanding Carbon Zero Kenya got into Kenya with a different approach on its aim to fight climate change and empower rural communities. It invested in working with rural women as agents of change and this has so far proved fruitful. Since the inception of Carbon Zero Kenya energy efficient cook stove projects in Nyanza most rural women with the neighborhood of Kisumu have been privileged to be beneficiaries of the improved cook stoves.
And it’s in this region that we meet Mama Akinyi who lives in Nyahera village which is located approximately 20kms west of Kisumu town. Mama Akinyi says that…“The traditional cook stove “kite adek” has been in my family for a long time .I used to buy firewood every week which cost me about 300/= Kshs, which was very expensive considering the fact that I did not have a constant source of income. Per month this totaled to 1200/= kshs,sometimes I was forced to purchase the firewood on credit basis from the wood vendor, this made me run away when I heard him looking for me. During rainy seasons the wood price escalated, wood was not readily available and sometimes if available was not dry.
One day at the market I met this lady from Umeme women group who introduced me to a jiko ya kisasa, artisanal cook stove”.
Having read my past blogs you will remember that Carbon Zero Kenya in 2014 trained a group of 15 women form the community (Umeme women group) on how to produce and assemble an efficient CZK artisanal cook stove.
Mama Akinyi continues to say; ……“The group used to do a demonstration on how to light and use the stove and this really motivated me to purchase it through an installment basis which was convenient for me .One of the key aspects of the stove was the ability to cut the firewood consumption by approximately 50% leading to the reduction on the amount that I was spending per month to purchase the firewood. The use of the artisanal stove has allowed me to purchase firewood in bulk thus enabling me to prepare the woodin terms of making sure they are well dried and readily available. Also my relationship with wood vendor has improved drastically because am able to buy in bulk and pay on time. Having cut wood consumption by 50% it made it easy to save and start an income generatingactivity.
With the funds I managed to save, I started a small kitchen garden where I planted kales and other vegetables .This provides food for my family and is also a source of livelihood. The money from this venture has made me join a “Chamaa” which has enabled me to buy a mobile phone making communication easier. Through this chamaa we do table banking with the money I get form my vegetables farm I intend to save money for a year and borrow a loan to take my son to the University. All this could not be possible were it not for the improved cook stove which was designed by carbon zero and produced by Umeme women group’’.
The story from mama Akinyi verily confirms the fact that Women are essential to ending poverty around the world. Strengthening women’s roles as leaders, entrepreneurs, consumers and economic stakeholders will transform the African continent and the world in totality.
Zambia has seen rampant deforestation in the past decades and recent reports from the Food & Agriculture Organization (FOA) suggest the country now suffers the second highest deforestation per capita in the world. The per capita annual consumption of firewood in Zambia is estimated at 1,025 Kg in rural areas. The highest rates are found in the Southern province where deforestation has already impacted local climate, resulting in increased drought frequency and intensity, with negative effects on food crop production.
The rural communities surrounding Dambwa Forest, located in Southern province just outside the city of Livingstone, will be the beneficiaries of low carbon cook-stoves for every household, thanks to the efforts of the African Lion & Environmental Research Trust (www.lionalert.org) with the generous support of the Woodspring Trust and the knowledge of improved cookstove technologies from CO2Balance.
Prior to implementation of this project a sample of households were assessed for current wood usage, having an average of 1,231 Kg per capita annual consumption. Following a lengthy design process with the assistance of CO2balance, a stove design was created to make use of locally available resources, the majority of which come from sustainable sources. As a pilot of the full scale project the first stoves created have been provided to households and their wood consumption reassessed to measure the efficiency of the design. The results show a significant decline in wood usage to a per capita annual consumption rate of between 337 and 435 Kg – an average 69% fall from previous rates. These results are within the expected range of efficiencies, although we are hoping to increase this through feedback from the families using the stoves, as well as from improvements in the manufacture process as we commence mass production.
Feedback from the families that are using the first stoves has been extremely favourable, reporting that they are able to cook all the foods they usually do on the stove, in the same time as on an open fire, and that smoke from the stove is less than from traditional cooking methods.