In May 2018 we started the process of constructing 100 fuel-efficient stoves in Totonicapán, Guatemala.
EcoLogic uses fuel-efficient cookstoves as a tool to replace open-pit fires or other inefficient cooking techniques, which are the norm throughout rural areas in Mexico and Central America. In Mexico, firewood remains the primary household fuel source, accounting for 80% of energy use within rural communities. Similarly, 97% of rural Guatemalans cook on wood burning cookstoves. Open-pit stoves, including the common “three-stone” model in Central America, can lose as much as 90% of their energy before reaching the cooking surface. Improved stoves increase the energy efficiency of cooking, therefore requiring less fuelwood than traditional stoves -- something that is particularly critical to change in households surrounded by degraded forests.
Sounds simple enough, but how does this happen?
We work closely with our local partners on the ground and local communities to coordinate the process. Our Field Technician, Fernando, has also enlisted Margarita to help. She is a student at a local university in Totonicapán.
First, they work to identify who will be eligible to receive a stove. As you can imagine, the need is great and we have to be strategic in satisfying demand. Some of the criteria we use to do this are:
- Household must be located in an area at high risk of deforestation. Field staff should first select households with the highest rates of firewood extraction for cooking.
- Cookstoves should go to those with the greatest need first. Factors to be considered in defining “greatest need” include long cooking times, high fuel consumption, degraded or marginal landholdings, little means to purchase a cookstove on their own.
- Households may be chosen based on empirical evidence (monitoring the fuelwood consumption of numerous interested households before deciding) or by general
consensus at a community meeting (at which primarily or solely women will be present).
- The goal is to choose beneficiaries in an unbiased manner with regard to the power dynamics and economic means in a given community.
- Member(s) of the beneficiary household must be willing to participate in forest stewardship activities in exchange for their cookstove.
- Household may not already own a fuel-efficient cookstove.
Below you can see Doña Cecilia and Doña Marta, two of the 100 amas de casa that will benefit from new, more efficient stoves. You can also see the open-flame method they currently use for cooking.
Next, materials must be purchased and transported to the community. It is an all-hands-on-deck process. Below you can see community members and Margarita unloading the truck.
The next steps will be a series of trainings to ensure the proper long-term use and durability of the stoves.
Training 1: Stove Benefits and Preparations. Field technicians outline the relationship between fuelwood extraction and deforestation and explain how fuel-efficient stoves can reduce pressure on degraded forests.
Training 2: Stove Construction. EcoLogic field staff instruct groups of women in fuel-efficient cookstove construction, demonstrating and assisting in each step of the process. Specific step-by-step guidelines vary depending on the stove model chosen.
Training 3: Stove Maintenance and Repair. Meeting facilitators discuss proper maintenance of stoves over time to extend the longevity and efficiency of function. They demonstrate troubleshooting procedures for common problems with cookstoves and give beneficiaries time to practice.
Training 4: Stove Lighting. Meeting facilitators instruct beneficiaries in stove lighting techniques and verify that each new stove is functioning properly.
We look forward to keeping you updated on this process once the stoves are finished in the coming months! Thank you.
Margarita unloading stove materials
Delivery of materials to the community