Improved cooking stoves are a game changer

By Colleen Walton, FHF Project Committee member

Improved cookstoves are key item in ‘critical infrastructure’ provided to women’s group
partners, along with water collection and storage.

Improved cookstoves provide a ‘double dividend’ of reducing fuel need, and thus deforestation, and reducing the exposure of women and children to high levels of indoor pollutants (carbon monoxide
and suspended particles) that contribute to respiratory diseases and eye damage. The
stoves conserve energy with small, insulated fire boxes. This benefits women by
reducing the amount of costly firewood, or reducing the need to gather and use shrubs
and branches (which are smoky fuel sources) for daily cooking.

In 2022, the remaining three ‘new partner’ women’s groups members in the Kamuketha
and Nkando areas received these stoves. Donations from the Rotary Club of
Charlottetown and individuals as part of the annual Holiday Campaign are used to
purchase and provide these invaluable assets.

In June 2022, Claire Loina Kubania, the project officer responsible to oversee stove installation, reported:
“During the process of installation, many women have been mentioning how they have
been struggling with smoke-related allergies, such as teary eyes, chest issues and runny
noses. Now that kitchens are smoke-free, the women are able to cook comfortably, and
have lower risk of smoke-related allergies and complications, regardless of the kitchen

Claire also reported on the enthusiastic response from Josephine Kanyua, a member of
Mukiri Women Group. Josephine recently ventured into cash cropping and hires
workers to assist in her farm. She found that the improved stove reduced fuel
consumption so that her 400Ksh bundle of wood lasted more than twice the usual 1.5
weeks. Josephine also reported that it took a much shorter time to prepare the hearty
lunch for her workers.

In addition to the efficiency and health benefits, Claire says: "Their kitchen spaces look very neat
and modern with the new stoves, and somehow this has raised their self esteem too! “

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