Clean Cookstoves and Health for Families in Nicaragua


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Summary

Trees, Water & People (TWP) and our Nicaraguan partners, Proleña, are partnering with Aprovecho Research Center of Cottage Grove Oregon to improve rural communities’ health, and understanding of indoor air pollution caused by open-fire cookstoves in the Northern region of Nicaragua. Cooking with wood over an open fire fills kitchens with smoke; smoke that contains dangerous levels of particulates and carbon monoxide. This heavy exposure has been likened to smoking five packs of cigarettes a day. Cooking shouldn’t kill, which is why last November, we conducted a study with 120 families in six communities, 50% who had improved cookstoves, and 50% who didn’t. Our preliminary results are alarming, which is why we are raising funds to help put a clean cookstove in each home cooking with open fires.

Plates on the left show indoor air quality in kitchens using Proleña’s improved stoves compared to the right plates showing indoor air quality in kitchens with open-fire stoves. The danger of indoor air pollution speaks for itself.

Test results from the indoor air quality study.

Challenge

In Nicaragua, over 80% of the rural population uses fuelwood to cook their meals, and almost half of the fuel burned is considered non-renewable, contributing to loss and degradation of ecosystems. Most of this cooking happens over traditional open fires, exposing entire families to constant smoke and carbon monoxide inhalation in their homes. Nicaragua consistently appears on the list of top 10 countries most affected by climate change (GermanWatch, 2015), and has lost nearly 75% of its forests due to land conversion (Foundation for Sustainable Development). TWP has worked for 20 years to reverse this trend by promoting fuel-efficient clean cookstoves and reforestation as a local solution.

Proleña is the only female-run, Nicaraguan-founded non-profit in the country that uses real testimonies from stove users to improve their stove designs, and ultimately the health of Nicaraguans in need.

Solution

Our long-term partners, Proleña, have been national leaders in Nicaragua in developing renewable energy solutions for the highest need communities. Their culturally-appropriate and highly efficient clean cookstoves meet the needs of rural and urban families, as well as medium to large scale restaurants and street vendors. Compared to the dozens of stove manufacturers in Nicaragua, Proleña is the only female-run, Nicaraguan-founded non-profit in the country that uses real testimonies from stove users to improve their stove designs, and ultimately the health of Nicaraguans in need.

We believe that everyone plays a role in making the world more sustainable and humane. Our donors provide the means, Trees, Water & People provides the network and know-how, our local partners deliver the solution, and each beneficiary provides local materials and sweat equity. Together we drive change and create dignified, healthy futures for our global community.

Help thank our study participants by donating to put a clean cookstove in each of their homes. Cooking shouldn’t kill, together we can change that!

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If you would prefer to donate by check, please send your check to:

Trees, Water & People
633 Remington Street
Fort Collins, Colorado 80524

Women stand with their new clean cookstoves.