Cooking with a Difference

Our initial baseline findings before starting off the improved cook stove project in Kisumu East indicated that people are more than willing to shift from using traditional cook stoves to using improved cook stoves only if they perceive a genuine utility value in adopting the improved cook stove. The success of improved cook stoves depends much on its design. The design ought to be well adapted to people’s needs keeping in mind the general design principles of efficiency, emission reduction and ergonomics characteristics that the carbon zero stove exhibit.

The recently concluded Monitoring Kitchen Survey conducted in Kisumu East in August 2016 led us to a household where Masela Odero, a 73 year old widow who lives with her daughter in law in Simboi village that is about 12kms from Kisumu town recounted her story.

Masela noted that “…..The three stone stove wasn’t working for me, because the stones were not stable enough to hold a cooking pot firmly. I kept struggling to adjust the stove size according to the cooking pot size and also regulating the amount of fuel was chaotic .As a result I had to bend in order to cook therefore by the time the meal was ready I was too tired to eat hence I had to look for a quick alternative source of stove .I had to pay a neighbor who was demanding 500/- ksh to build me a none portable stove, little did I know that it was the beginning of my problems.”

She continued to narrate that “First the stove consumed a lot of wood fuel since not all the heat was channeled to the cooking pot also the stove had no liner a whole log would fit in it. The smoke emitted was a major concern because there was blackening of the wall from soot and coughing was inevitable. Cooking wasn’t pleasant because the too much heat would make me stay far away from the stove, to avoid this I told my daughter in law to cook all the time, of course it made her dodge by pretending to go to the river in order to avoid cooking. In addition to all this I had to pay for repairs and maintenance of stove, the clay used was poor quality. Cooking was a chore I enjoyed but now I was made to think twice”.

Further she stated that “Just as I was about to give up on cooking carbon zero distributed improved stoves at no fee and I was a lucky beneficiary. It is fixed thus it eliminates the possibility of it toppling over when the food is being cooked or when children are around. Less firewood is used, which means that the wood burns more efficiently in the improved stove as compared to traditional cook stove. The liner minimizes the smoke emitted outside this reduces Blackening of the walls from the soot. This contributes to a great extent to the comfort of cooking making it enjoyable therefore no more dodging for Selina. For the health benefits my back does not hurt because I sit next to the stove where the heat is easily regulated. The best part about of the stove is that we have contact information of the field officers in case of issues like damages the stove is repaired free of charge hence making it affordable and sustainable for me”.

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The above photo shows a different household a woman cooking using traditional stove.

Look at the wall full of soot and the whole log that had to be used. The cracks on the edge clearly show the stove is not stable. The smoke emitted is also very wanting.

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The above photo shows Mrs. Odero cooking on a carbon Zero Improved cook stove.

With a smile she says that ….‘‘No trace of smoke is evident, costs on wood is friendly due to low fuel consumption. Sitting next to the stove is easy since it is fixed .the wall is clean and I love cooking all over again. My sincere thanks to Carbon Zero for the great job they do in the rural communities in Kenya and beyond.”

By Christine Nabutete and Moses Maina

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Repairing for better service….

Before the last  four years moving most if not all households in Shimba Hills (Maungu, Kasighau, Golini and Muhaka) in Taita Taveta and Kwale  Counties were using traditional three-stone fireplace for cooking. During that period women used to spend an average of 15 hours per week collecting fuel wood from local forests in the larger Shimba Hills area for home use. Poverty rate around Shimba Hills is above 50 percent and unemployment above 25 percent. This called for a simple and affordable efficient stove technology to reduce wood consumption and preserve unique vegetation and biodiversity within the region.  And that’s how Carbon Zero came into the area and with the support of local leaders in consultation with local community members implemented an energy efficient cook stove project.  The project therefore identified the efficient CZK cook stove as an appropriate technology for this region.

The CZK stove is 50 – 60 percent more efficient than the three-stone stove. The project has been lauded by local community members as a life changer and a great step in the right direction. Some of the impacts and benefits of the projects so far include;

  • A majority of households in Shimba Hills area have benefitted from better air and from having to spend less time for collecting firewood
  • Over 8,000 efficient cook stoves were installed in the area
  • Most women have been able to create time to engage in other economic activities raising their income and living standard of their families
  • A large percentage of beneficiaries say that indoor air quality has improved
  • Each stove avoids about 3,2 t CO2 and 2 tons wood per year
  • The project has so far saved massive tonnes of firewood

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After four years since the stoves were distributed and optimally being used some started developing cracks and this led to the need to plan and repair and maintain them. The local community members having enjoyed the benefits of the stoves through Carbon Zero field staff send their requests which were positively received and a decision to repair all the damaged stoves made.

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One of the stove beneficiaries was quoted saying “…I have been so happy for the last four years I have had my improved CZK stove. And now that it’s cracked I request for it to be fixed as my life seems to be hitting a wall.  I can’t imagine using a three stone stove a gain.  Before I got the CZK stove I had to go to the forest every day, which is a 15-20km walk with all the heavy wood on my head. Now I only have to go to the forest twice a week. Who wouldn’t want that? That’s the life every woman would want to live.’’

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Early this month we took time and assessed all stoves in the region- over 8000 stoves and identified about 300 stoves that needed quick action, of which we repaired and ensured that the owners are able to continue enjoying their services.

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This has not only left the stove beneficiaries happy but as ensured that the stoves will continuously be utilized fully for the domestic cooking roles. The benefits associated with the stove usage will continuously be enjoyed by the stove owners. New members in the community are thirsty for the day they will also own the Carbon Zero stove.

Uncovering Success; getting feedback directly from project beneficiaries in the rural communities

Many of us wake up every morning and go to work; we do everything possible to ensure we attain results – tangible results for that matter. But how do we tell if development projects we tirelessly implement have impacted people’s lives?

At this point I need to introduce my Company and what we do. I work for Carbon Zero Kenya an environmental project developer with more than 7 years experience implementing energy efficient stove projects. In close cooperation with our UK partner Co2balance UK Ltd – CZK has distributed approximately 62,000 improved cook stoves throughout East Africa. These projects have helped local communities improve their standards of living across environmental, social and economic domains, by minimizing long journeys spent collecting wood fuel, reducing deforestation, providing local employment opportunities and most importantly reducing health hazards.

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Late last month we made visits to our project areas in Aberdares, Nyeri, Kisumu and Eldoret and the responses we got from the beneficiaries were so promising moving into the future. We visited many households with our improved cook stoves and met women who narrated over and over again how the stoves have drastically helped reduce the demand for firewood and thus protecting local forests, which in a bigger picture leads to reduced CO2 emissions. The women further explained how the Carbon Zero efficient cook stoves have enabled a superior and more efficient combustion process, which has improved the air quality within their respective homes.

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A majority of the beneficiaries we met reported less smoke, less eye irritations, ease to breathe while cooking, less coughing and less suffering from headache. They further noted that besides improvements in environmental impact and health of women and children, the distribution of the efficient cook stoves have led to immense social and economical development.  They can save money which would otherwise have been consumed by firewood to invest in other vital family needs i.e. paying school fees for their kids. The stories uncovered successes of our cook stove projects beyond our imagination.

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Some women noted with that the carbon zero improved cook stoves are safe, stable and dramatically reducing the time, cost, and danger associated with collecting fuel from risky forests.  With all these positive feedback from our project beneficiaries we were able to get back to our initial question; how do we tell if development projects we tirelessly implement have impacted people’s lives?  These responses gave us a clear picture – they answered the question very well and to this effect we can only aim to do more to reach as many more areas. Many times we have understood the reduction in wood use from using our improved cook stoves but with this visit to we are now able to understand both the intended and unintended impacts of our projects.

 

 

 

Zoba Anseba Cookstoves: Tekea and her Award Winning Eritrean Stove

Tekea Tsefagherghesh keeps her home spotlessly clean – not an easy task in Eritrea, a hot and dusty sub-Saharan country.  Tekea’s village, Adi Tekelezan, is 2,500 metres above sea level and about 40 minutes’ drive north of Eritrea’s capital Asmara. Within the low walls is the mid-sized hut that contains Tekea’s most proud possession; her self-built improved cook stove.

The traditional stove with its open flame and voracious appetite for fuel is very detrimental for the health of families and their living environments.  One familiar image of Africa is of women and children carrying heavy bundles of sticks, sometimes for many miles. Tekea was one such woman, gathering sticks three or four times a week and carrying them many miles back to her home, or spending her little amount of cash buying them instead.

Tekea’s new stove is quite substantial, at over two metres in length.  It has various doors and openings to regulate the temperature as well as large, round hotplates so that she can cook Injera, the traditional bread eaten all over East Africa.  The design is simple but very innovative, and has won many awards for it’s inventor, local man Debesai Ghebrehiwet such as The Green Apple Award and the Tech Museum award. Each stove saves at least three tonnes of CO2 per year.

Tekea has decorated her stove with hand painted flowers and leaves.  The huge advantage of the stove is that it uses nearly 60% less fuel that the traditional stove and any harmful fumes are funneled out of the small, enclosed kitchen hut. All of the materials used to build the stove are sourced locally.

In this community-led programme, Vita supplies the moulds and the knowledge, but the women themselves contribute towards the cost, as well as building each stove with the help of the other village women. Involving the whole community ensures that no individual family is left out. Tekea is now a trainer, and works with Vita’s home economists to bring the programme to the wider community. Vita has an integrated approach to enabling farm families achieve sustainable livelihoods, involving not just stoves but clean water pumps, solar lights latrines and trees. This creates ‘green zones’ that not only benefit the families but have a hugely positive impact on the environment.

For Tekea, the drudgery of gathering sticks is dramatically reduced, and this has given her far more time to spend working to better her future and that of her children. Tekea, like more than 40% of women in Eritrea, rears her family of seven children alone. The extra income she can now earn is used to buy milk and help pay for her children’s education.

 

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Award winning Mogogo Stove in Zoba Anseba

Tekea and her family

Tekea and her family in the village of Adi-Tekelezan

Clinton’s support for cookstoves

Two weeks before Super Tuesday, when Bill Clinton made case for his wife’s candidacy, he praised the Clinton Foundation’s and particularly Mrs. Clinton’s efforts in promoting clean cookstoves in Sub-Saharan Africa, as one her many policy accomplishments. Indeed it was Hillary Clinton, back in 2010 as a Secretary of State who announced the launching of Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a new public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation (UNF), adding that “clean stoves could be as transformative as bed nets or vaccines.” A year later she made an appearance in an interview with the Alliance’s other goodwill ambassador, actress Julia Roberts on Oprah Winsfrey Network to focus attention on the issue for a wider audience in the US. In her book, Hard Choices published in 2014, she gave the issue an even higher visibility and explained the reasons that made her to take action on this “deeply troubling and consequential challenge”. She pointed out that according to the World Health Organization, smoke from dirty stoves and fires kills almost 2 million people each year, most of them women and children. It kills more than twice as many people as malaria, she noted. As a mother herself, she called women worldwide to support hers and the Alliance’s efforts to reach 100 million households by 2020 to promote clean and healthy cooking environment. Although the 2016 presidential election is still a long way off, after this week’s Super Tuesday it worth to keep an eye on Mrs. Clinton who might take the support for the cause of clean cookstoves to an even higher level.

Australian Aid Project in West Kisumu Progressing Well

The West Kisumu Women’s Cookstove Project sponsored by Australian Aid is now in full swing. Last Thursday the first batch of stove components were transported from our base in Nairobi to the Carbon Zero Kenya stove workshop in West Kisumu, ready to be assembled and sold by the Umeme Women’s Group. The Group consists of 10 members all of whom rely on farming to earn a living. One of the key aims of this project is to provide the Group with a new vocation which will allow them to supplement their income particularly during the dry season when agricultural production is low.

On Monday the Carbon Zero Manufacturing and Logistics Officer, Charles Ruto, travelled to the project area to conduct a hands-on stove assembly training session and to oversee the production of the first stoves in order to ensure that their build quality is consistent with the required standards. During the training all aspects of stove build were explained to the women from design right through to finish.

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In the meantime, other areas of the project are also being advanced including a promotion campaign led by the Carbon Zero Regional Coordinator Wycliffe Odumo. Over the next two months the Umeme Women’s Group aims to build and sell 900 improved cookstoves, so bringing the local community on board and educating them on the benefits of the stove will be pivotal to the success of the project. Stove sales will primarily be the responsibility of the Umeme Women’s Group, however, Carbon Zero Kenya will provide support in establishing market linkages and sales networks to facilitate the volumes required.

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As for the future sustainability of the project, the cookstoves sold under this project will  be included in CO2balance’s small scale Gold Standard project in West Kisumu which will generate additional carbon finance allowing for the future subsidisation of stoves in the region.

 

International Day of Biodiversity

The connection between improved cookstoves and biodiversity is straightforward and very important as reducing reliance on wood resources protects the natural habitat of two-third of the world’s plant and animal species living in forests. Since today marks the International Day of Biodiversity, it is a good opportunity to take look at the big picture and remember that we need to value more our ecosystem. We are hoping that via our cookstove projects throughout Africa we can contribute our fair share to protect wildlife by keeping their habitat safe for the coming years.

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Photo by UN-REDD