Old Stove being replaced by new
Meet the Rocha family -- fifteen Nicaraguans, spanning three generations, leading productive rural lives on a medium sized farm in the village of Copalteme, 15 kilometers outside of Nagarote. Three times a day, the women of this family gather to prepare a meal for themselves, their hard working men, for the children, and for a few day laborers who work with them on the farm. That’s the way it has been for more than 50 years, cooking in a rustic kitchen with an open wood fired stove, consuming large quantities of wood and filling the house with smoke.
As soon as the women learned from SosteNica of the possibility of burning less firewood while breathing fresh air, they jumped at the opportunity. Together, we built a first model, which they loved. Almost immediately, they decided to build two more to give them a total of six burners.
The state of Nagarote (which includes Copalteme) consumes more firewood than any other in Nicaragua -- 300 tons a month – that’s 600,000 pounds per month, or 7,200,000 pounds per year! This rate of wood consumption deforests 2,397 hectares annually (6,000 acres). Not only does this rate of firewood consumption result in indiscriminate deforestation, it leads to rampant chronic respiratory illness. Respiratory illnesses mostly affect women and children as their homes are filled with cooking smoke from kitchens with unventilated open fires.
The SosteNica-EcoCentro began promoting our Eco-stove program in different parts of Nicaragua in 2016. Our first 12 stoves were built in the Nagarote region when Arcadia University School of Public Health sent a brigade of graduate students to launch the program. Next, we built 20 stoves in the Jinotega and Matagalpa regions. Then, in partnership with FNE (Friends of New England), more than 100 stoves have been built throughout the west coast region of Nicaragua.
In 2017, the program will serve an additional 30 families across 7 rural communities, benefitting more than 250 people. We are proud that our stove design reduces wood consumption by more than 40%, cutting deforestation as well as lung and respiratory disease. Since January, the EcoCentro has also offered three group trainings to more than 60 residents of seven communities in the northern part of Nicaragua.
Our goal over the next five years is to:
- eliminate the use of inefficient open cook stoves for all of the families with whom we work.
- expand the use of the eco-technology in 8 different communities;
- organize and train young adults into teams for stove construction;
- support the environment through reforestation programs on the farms of those families currently working with SosteNica.
How do Eco-stoves work? By reducing the area of combustion (fire box), and concentrating the fire on a small area, the need for wood is reduced. In addition, the cook’s exposure to smoke is virtually eliminated through a smoke stack which takes smoke out through the kitchen roof.
While we haven’t applied for a patent, our unique stove was designed by our very own EcoCentro Director, Leysman Mendez. We now have a small installation team led by trained EcoCentro staff. All stoves require sweat equity -- family members, and occasional construction delegations from the United States, such as that of Arcadia University School of Public Health (2016 and 2017) do the installation.
All of this is made possible by the generosity of our Global Giving donors.
Rocha family kitchen
Rocha family stove