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.
Because of donors like you, EcoLogic is making strides in Guatemala. During the past few months 33 fuel-efficient stoves were built for families in the towns of Barillas, El Ixcán, and San Antonio Tzeja. The stoves are just one part of the holistic approach EcoLogic takes in an overall conservation strategy. In exchange for a stove, communities involved in our projects commit to engaging in another form of environmental stewardship. In this case, the families came together and planted over 500 trees.
The fuel-efficient stoves program has a significant impact on rural families and the environment. By making cooking significantly more efficient, pressure on the forests that surround communities is reduced, less time is needed to gather wood (a task typically undertaken by women and children), and indoor air pollution is vastly decreased—mitigating a significant respiratory health threat in the home. The holistic element of family participation through environmental stewardship has proven to be an essential element of the program and one of the key reasons for its success.
Although building 33 stoves is a step in the right direction, we need to progress at a faster pace to meet demand and reduce fuel-wood extraction from standing forests. This is where you come in. Please continue to support this project with another modest donation, tell your friends about your contribution and challenge them to match your gift, or simply like us on Facebook. Your support is essential to this important work and we need you to help us spread the word.
The overarching goal of the helping communities build and use fuel-efficient stove is to increase environmental stewardship within rural communities of Guatemala by improving the resource efficiency and healthiness of household cooking. The stoves decrease the human threats to tropical forests, promote environmental leadership within some of the most marginalized members of society, and improves the lives and health particularly of women and children. To make sure of the efficiency of the EcoLogic stoves – we commissioned a study completed by the experts at the Zamorano Institute’s Improved Stove Certification Center in Honduras.
The studied resulted in several insights and recommendations that will help us adjust our program to maximize our impact. For instance, we learned that the fuel-efficient stove models that we introduce is not the most efficient stoves on the market (though they are considerably more fuel efficient that conventional open-pit fires); however, they are well liked and used by beneficiaries. Our model, though less efficient, is durable and multi-functional as a table and cooking surface. It is also important to note that adoption rates and demand for the stoves remains high.
In rural Guatemala, EcoLogic works with communities to develop and implement practical plans to promote forest reforestation and conservation. Using a holistic approach that goes beyond chimneys and stovetops, we are taking into account the role of the ecosystem and the community to implement sustainable changes.
EcoLogic recently spoke with teacher and Totonicapán community member Juana Maria Garcia about her time volunteering with EcoLogic and building fuel-efficient stoves in Cuchanet, Guatemala.
You have also helped to build fuel-efficient stoves, right?
JMG: Yes, this last winter I worked with EcoLogic to help build stoves for 75 families. The beneficiaries were in five communities and I primarily worked in Cuchanet. I collaborated with the group—mostly women of the households—to build the stoves. A mason supervised us, but we did everything as a team. We mixed the cement, lay the adobe and the bricks, and built the inner chamber. The chamber is built in a special way which helps the air move and reduces the amount of wood needed to keep it hot. Finally, we put on the chimney, and gave the stove a special coating of sand and cement, and then the owner had to wait 30 days for it to dry and "settle" before she could use it.
The owners are taught how to maintain the stoves, including what can be burned and what can't be. For example, most people don't know that burning plastic is dangerous for your health and for the environment. Fernando, the EcoLogic technician, also teaches how to keep the stoves clean, and why flies are bad for the food, as many people don't understand this. So there is a lot of health and hygiene information that is talked about, too.
In the communities of Totonicapán, Guatemala, we have recently built 75 stoves. Each stove represents a family that can breathe easier in their home due to the benefits of having a new, fuel-efficient stove with a chimney that channels smoke outside the home and away from the lungs of family members, including women and children. EcoLogic’s program includes hands-on workshops in which women learn how to build and properly maintain their stoves. As part of the program families must also commit to some form of environmental stewardship. This can range from tending to a community tree nursery, engaging in sustainable agriculture, or reforesting areas around water sources.
To date, 50 of the goal of 75 families, across 7 communities, have supported the production of native trees to be planted in one of 8 nurseries in Totonicapán!
The holistic element of family participation through environmental stewardship has proven to be an essential element of the program and one of the key reasons for its success.
With your continued support we will expand out project and meet our goals.
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