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Cleaner cookstoves, month 2

Posted on Posted in Blog, Year Of Charity
  • Every month I donate part my salary to charity.
  • This month I help buying cleaner cookstoves.

2016 is my year of charity. I’ll donate part of my income for good causes, every month another one. Then I’ll blog about the impact. Here is what I support in February.

A common 3-stone cooking place with open fire
A common 3-stone cooking place with open fire

40 cigarettes a day

Imagine a small village in India. In a hut are women and children sitting around a fireplace cooking their meals. The smoke generated by the open fire lingers in the room. There is no chimney and ventilation is poor. This happens every day, every week, year over year. Food is heated this way across India and Africa. An estimated 500 million households use these primitive indoors stoves fuelled by wood, coal, crop waste and dung, some in the remotest places on earth.
The toxic air can be as bad as smoking the equivalent of 40 cigarettes a day. It destroys lungs causes heart diseases and can result in low weight at birth.
According to United Nations, smoke from these fireplaces kills almost 2 million people and sickens millions more per year. Women staying at home looking after the food are mostly affected but children staying close to their mothers are equally vulnerable.

Scars in the landscape

Besides destroying human tissue it also destroys the environment: chopping plants for firewood leads to environmental degradation in the long term. Large areas on those continents are now stripped bare of trees, much of which has occurred in the last 50 years. The resulting scars of deforestation across the land means valuable and important fertile soil is washed away with every rainfall.
Tons of soot from every village spewed into the atmosphere causes further problems. There are no exact numbers of how much CO2 emissions these stoves generate, estimates range from 2 to 5%. Over half of all wood harvested worldwide is used as fuel. Up to a third of the wood fuel harvested is unsustainable – that is when more wood is used than grown – causing degradation or deforestation.
The solution to this does not require expensive technology. It is all about using the fuel more efficiently.
Women in Africa buying firewood
Women in Africa buying firewood

26 bricks are all you need

The charity I support this month is Ripple Africa. They are tackling the problem of unsafe and inefficient fireplaces in Malawi. The charity created a stove made of  26 mud bricks and a mud mortar mix; this is an adapted version of a 16-brick design by Dr. Larry Winiarski. All of which can be locally sourced and produced. It is called the “Changu Changu Moto”; it means “Fast Fast Fire in Chichewa”.

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These cook stoves are much more efficient and cleaner than the open fire they used before, saving time and money as well as saving lives. Volunteers from the local communities are trained to build a Changu Changu Moto cook stove and can build them in the local communities. Householders are trained on maintenance and how to fire the oven. Ripple the monitored the houses and records progress.
A Changu Changu Moto cleaner cookstove installed in a home
A Changu Changu Moto cleaner cookstove installed in a home

Cleaner cleaner fuel-efficient cook stoves mean…

  • Improving the health of women and children by burning fuel more efficiently and producing less hazardous some. The Changu Changu Moto fire is contained, greatly reducing the risk of burns while cooking.
  • Reducing deforestation in Malawi. Over 90% of families in that region depend on wood for cooking. Every household that has a Changu Changu Moto needs 67% less wood. That resulted in savings of over 80.000 bundles of firewood – every week.
  • Sustainability – The stoves are built from a simple mud mortar mix, and can be easily repaired by householders. RIPPLE Africa delivers the education that will ensure the stove will be used for life.
  • Timesavings – women can save up to 10 hours per week on collecting firewood. The cooker also means meals take less time to prepare. The time saved can be spent on other activities.
  • Saving money – In urban or heavily deforested areas wood is especially expensive. Poor families benefit from almost 70% savings on wood fuel.
Ripple Africa goes further and is educating families about sustainable living and discusses with them why people should use them. Communities are learning about the problems of deforestation, and why it’s import to live sustainable and environmentally friendly. This way Ripple ensures the long-term success of the project.

The charity helped over 30,000 households to replace their inefficient three stone fires with a Changu Changu Moto cook stove. They are now living healthier, spending less money, save time and save the environment.

Who is behind this?

Ripple Africa was born in 2003 and is a charity registered both in the UK and USA. Their staff of 150 Malawian is supported by 2.000 local Malawians, all working on the projects described. They started small and are growing one project at a time.
They show long term and describe themselves as ‘realists, not idealists’.

Why I chose Ripple Africa

I like their approach of sourcing material locally and working with the communities on long term solutions making sure it’s sustainable. Their approach of growing the charity organically and addressing mistakes as they came along worked. A great cause for my #yearofcharity. I wish them all the best for the future.
Receipt for mil leaves' donation to RIPPLE Africa
Receipt for mil leaves’ donation to RIPPLE Africa