Ethiopia Improved 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.

Toshiba and CO2balance – partners for sustainable development

Since 2009, Toshiba TEC, a global leader in manufacturing printers and other electronic devices, has been partnering with CO2balance to deliver the Carbon Zero Scheme. Through this scheme, the company offsets the CO2 emissions caused by its production and distribution of Multi-Function Printers by supporting rural communities in Kenya to access fuel-efficient cookstoves and repairing boreholes in Uganda to ensure that communities can access safe water. The scheme has been remarkably successful, with over 430,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions prevented by the end of 2015, and we’re delighted to announce that in its current cycle, the scheme is now officially supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs were agreed in 2015 and set out an ambitious and expansive agenda to tackle the great challenges facing our planet and its people, plants and animals. Throughout 2017, case studies of people in Kenya and Uganda that are taking part in the scheme’s projects will be published on the Toshiba website, demonstrating the positive impacts for individuals in some of the poorest communities in the world. These case studies will also show how changes to the livelihoods individuals are a crucial part of the achievement of the SDGs. Several different SDGs are supported by the scheme, including:

SDG 1 (No Poverty): By supporting communities with fuel-efficient stoves or with a pure water supply that is drinkable straight from the source and does not require boiling to make it safe, the need for households to spend hours every day collecting firewood is reduced. This helps free up time for farmers like Vincent Ogwong, who can now focus on developing businesses to increase household income to invest in food and in educating his children.

SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing): Fuel-efficient stoves reduce the smoke inhalation suffered by families throughout sub-Saharan Africa by cooking on open fires in the home, thereby reducing exposure to respiratory problems.

SDG 13 (Climate Action): Introducing fuel-efficient stoves and removing the need to boil water to make it safe greatly reduces the volume of firewood burned by households, thereby reducing the resulting CO2 emissions. It is estimated that 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be prevented by the project activities in the current project cycle (April 2016-March 2018). The reduced dependence on firewood will also remove a cause of deforestation in the communities involved, ensuring that trees are preserved to sequester CO2.

We’re really excited to be involved in this scheme and to be making such a tangible contribution to these goals which are set to have such a positive impact in the coming years. You can check out the profile and details of the Toshiba Carbon Zero Scheme on the SDGs website and of course follow the CO2balance blog for regular updates!