Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala

by EcoLogic Development Fund
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Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Fuel-Efficient Stoves for Guatemala
Staff visit for a focus group discussion
Staff visit for a focus group discussion

Women in the communities where we work play a crucial role in the adoption and use of clean cooking solutions because of their responsibilities as cooks and managers of their households. EcoLogic’s main objective is to reduce the impact of fuel wood consumption on the forest. The stoves also make it possible for women and their children to spend fewer hours every day harvesting wood, and significantly reduce their exposure to the smoke produced by a typical open pit fire. In our project sites, we work in a holistic and collaborative way, where our goal is that the women who participate become leaders and agents of change for the protection of their environment and the safety of their homes.

The communities’ household needs and cultural preferences are an essential component in the acceptance of a stove, which leads to a better rate of uptake and continued use. One approach EcoLogic has taken is providing women access to several different stove models for testing. They spend the day in a focus group setting learning about what makes a stove more efficient and cooking typical meals (rice, beans, tortillas, plantains) on different stove models with their own cookware and utensils. The goal is for them to choose the model they prefer and then pilot it in their communities.

Hands-on training on use, maintenance, and repair of the stoves is also key. This is something that EcoLogic provides through our local technical staff. Follow-up and gauging satisfaction must be a part of the process as well. After our stoves have been installed for a period of time, we find it vital to conduct focus groups and household surveys to discuss and gain feedback about how the stoves are being used. In some stove designs, efficiency translates into a smaller cooking surface. For larger families, this can become burdensome—requiring them to cook meals in several batches or sometimes falling back on the open pit fire as a solution. To ensure the convenience and sustainability of the households EcoLogic works we seek to take all of these factors into account.

Our goal is to construct 350 appropriately-sized stoves by the middle of next summer. With your generous support, EcoLogic and its partners improve the living conditions, health, and sustainable livelihoods of women and all local residents. In total, EcoLogic has built over 3,000 fuel-efficient stoves in Guatemala and Honduras with the help of our donors and local partners. Women who are empowered and given the right tools can improve the health, environment, education, and economy in rural, subsistence communities. We hope that you will continue to support the strides we are making towards safer, fuel-efficient households in Guatemala.

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Fuel-efficient stove behind smiling faces
Fuel-efficient stove behind smiling faces

EcoLogic Development Fund would like to thank those of you who have helped with our Construct 150 Fuel-efficient Stoves in Guatemala project highlighted on the GlobalGiving platform!  We appreciate all that you have done and together we have been able to accomplish amazing things over these past couple of years.   

Just last year, with your help we exceed our goal by building a total of 175 fuel-efficient stoves in three regions where we work in Guatemala!  In Sarstún we built 100 fuel-efficient stoves, in Ixcán, 50, and finally in Totonicapán, we built 25.  As we mentioned in our last report, we are also committed to a process of finding the best possible type of stove with the highest efficiency-rating for each community by piloting various models in different communities. In 2014, we will continue the process of testing new models and working on our monitoring and evaluation of the stoves’ benefits, fuel-efficiency, community uptake, and cultural fit.

Why is this work important?

Most rural households in Guatemala use wood as their primary source of energy for cooking, using traditional open-pit fires. According to the World Health Organization, this wastes 85 percent of generated energy and contributes greatly to indoor air pollution to the detriment of women and children who spend significant time in the home. Furthermore, the excessive use of wood negatively impacts forests that hold valuable biodiversity and regulate the flow and quality of water. Our fuel-efficient stove program enables rural people, primarily women, to construct and maintain new stoves that improve indoor air quality, take pressure off forests, and build social capital among neighbors.

This community-led stove program is a shining example of our mission and approach. Beneficiaries receive the materials and training necessary to build a stove using a participatory methodology, where stoves are jointly-constructed by women with the help of a mason. In exchange, a member of the family agrees to participate in conservation initiatives, such as planting trees or tending a tree nursery. Through this “participation commitment” the program encourages beneficiaries to give back to their community and fosters solidarity among neighbors in solving the environmental and economic challenges that face them. Since 2005, EcoLogic’s stove program has benefited over 2,500 families in Guatemala and Honduras.

So far, you have been a part of a great group of individuals who have helped us raise $7,045 towards a goal of $20,000.  We have $12,955 left to raise. This amount would help an additional 77 families and we know that with your continued support we can meet this goal by the end of the year. 

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Constructing an ONIL stove
Constructing an ONIL stove

Fuel-efficient stoves are an important part of EcoLogic’s broader menu of community based approaches to conservation and sustainable development. EcoLogic originally introduced the stoves to reduce pressure on forested areas and to also help educate and inspire local people to adopt approaches that can have a significant impact on the ecosystems. Over the past few years, we have endeavored to expand and improve our stove program.

This past July, EcoLogic’s Regional Program Director, Gabriela Gonzalez and Guatemalan Technical Promoters Yovany Díaz, Jose Domingo Caal, and Fernando Recancoj attended the Clean Cookstove Alliance’s Guatemala stakeholder consultation and market assessment in Antigua, Guatemala. Based on information presented, discussions at the workshop, and research conducted by several interns we have decided to pilot a different stove, called the ONIL stove in Guatemala which has proven to have a higher fuel-efficiency rating than our current stove. This stove was also selected based on criteria such as the stoves’ durability, likelihood of cultural acceptance for food preparation and household norms, fuel efficiency and indoor air pollution ratings, safety, appropriateness for local fuel wood types, ease of sourcing materials for construction and repair, cost (initial cash outlay and estimated lifetime cost), and our connections to and ability to develop relationships with other organizations and agencies implementing similar stoves at a broader scale.

In August, we installed 25 test stoves with our partner the 48 Cantones of Totonicapán as well as provided training and guidance on their use and maintenance.  We are currently developing tools to evaluate the ONIL model to determine if it is the best fit for the cultural and environmental needs of the communities we serve during the next phase of our project. We look forward to keeping you posted on how the stoves are doing!
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Don Augustin with his seedlings
Don Augustin with his seedlings

We recently visited our work in Totonicapán, Guatemala, getting to see the current state of the 8 greenhouses EcoLogic has helped establish. As of this September, 5,520 seedling trays have been fully planted with 132,480 seedlings of different species and ages. These include white pine, red pine, alder, oak, and Guatemalan fir, among others. The trays used to grow these seedlings yield a root “plug,” which makes the roots more resilient and decreases mortality once they are transplanted to the reforestation site.

Another issue to keep in mind is fungal diseases, which can be difficult to control and, once they infect a plant, they are hard to eliminate. For example, gray mold, caused by the fungus botrytis cinera, can cause damage to seeds in cones and during germination. In order to avoid this, our local partner the Natural Resource Board of the 48 Cantones, has been experimenting with organic fungicides. The concoction in the image below includes natural ingredients such as garlic, onions, and ginger, as well as certain microorganisms.  
At the helm of this process are Don Agustin, his assistant Cesar, and EcoLogic’s field technician, Fernando Recancoj. The pungent liquid will remain in the 200 liter barrel for 30 days until it is ready to be sprayed on the saplings. We’ll let you know how it goes!
Don Agustin is excited to show us his handiwork. He has been overseeing these nurseries, in their different stages, for over 10 years. He proudly shows off all the little seedlings, which he fondly refers to as his “children”. This is just one of the steps we are taking to help the people of Totonicapán protect the 21,000 hectare forest of which they are stewards.
Close up of the seedlings currently growing
Close up of the seedlings currently growing
Organic fungicide used to battle fungus
Organic fungicide used to battle fungus
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Stove beneficiary shows off her new stove!
Stove beneficiary shows off her new stove!

Fifty families in northern Guatemala, across four communities, have recently received EcoLogic’s fuel-efficient stoves as part of our ongoing conservation efforts in the area. As the number of stove beneficiaries grows – so does the amount of acres reforested, conserved, and protected.

As a stove recipient, families must agree to not only use the stove in an effort to reduce their wood consumption, but to conversely give back to the forest through reforestation and vigilant monitoring against illegal loggers and fires.

Reforestation in the Ixcán Region of El Quiche has included the participation of 146 families. They have attended trainings focused on the preparation of seed mixes and general care for saplings in nurseries.

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Organization Information

EcoLogic Development Fund

Location: Cambridge, MA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ecologicdevfund
Project Leader:
Barbara Vallarino
Cambridge, MA United States
$22,330 raised of $30,000 goal
 
272 donations
$7,670 to go
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