This past summer EcoLogic Program Officer Chris Patterson helped construct fuel-efficient stoves in some of the most remote areas of Guatemala. He shares his experience below:
"Greetings from Livingston, Guatemala. I’m out here this week visiting our project with APROSARSTUN, our partner in the region. It’s way out here on Guatemala’s Caribbean coast. The area is incredibly humid, and the main mode of transportation is boat and canoe. Livingston is a somewhat popular tourist destination, but outside of the tourist center, the rural communities are very remote, very small, and quite underserved. For example, the President of APROSARSTUN, Martin, is from a village of 15 families. José Domingo, EcoLogic’s project técnico is from a community of 35 families. Each of these communities are part of our project. More than any other EcoLogic project I’ve seen, this one is reaching people way WAY off the beaten path. To me, it’s really inspiring.
This week, I worked in Barra Sarstún—a fishing village on the edge of the Sarstún River—where 33 fuel-efficient stoves are being constructed. José Domingo, Martín, and I were there to watch/help the first one get built. It was awesome watching the process from the very first brick. I’ve seen so many that are completed and always wondered what it took to build one.
In EcoLogic's projects, stove recipients are chosen based on their participation in the project and willingness to help build their stove. In Barra Sarstún, recipients are members of the Barra Sarstún Fisherfolk Committee, which is the group we work with to develop sustainable fishing practices in the region. The fishermen involved in the committee understand the need to conserve and care for the environment which provides them with their livelihoods (fish!), and are therefore excited to participate in projects which help advance conservation.
Here’s what you need to build a fuel-efficient stove: cinder blocks, bricks, cement, sand, water, clay/mud (filler in the base of the stove), an aluminum chimney, tools (a shovel, machete and trowel), and about four hours. And you need to know what you’re doing which is why we hire two men that have built many of our stoves. EcoLogic’s fuel-efficient stove program takes a holistic approach that connects the dots between a family's well-being and that of nature. I feel really lucky that I helped construct a stove this week – I just wish I could stick around and eat some yummy fish from it!"
Please visit Facebook to see a photo album of how a stove is constructed.