Apply to Join

Sustainable Cookstoves for Homes in Nicaragua

by SosteNica
Sustainable Cookstoves for Homes in Nicaragua
Sustainable Cookstoves for Homes in Nicaragua
Sustainable Cookstoves for Homes in Nicaragua
Sustainable Cookstoves for Homes in Nicaragua
Sustainable Cookstoves for Homes in Nicaragua
Sustainable Cookstoves for Homes in Nicaragua
Sustainable Cookstoves for Homes in Nicaragua
Candelaria proud Promoter Aurora with stove
Candelaria proud Promoter Aurora with stove

2019 marks the start of SosteNica’s third year working to provide clean cook stove technology to rural households in Nicaragua. This year our EcoCentro staff has trained 8 rural promoters living in the impacted communities. All of the promoters are simultaneously, teachers in the rural schools where our School Garden Network programs operate. The promoters’ role is to identify those families in need of an improved wood stove that will benefit the family’s health by enhancing the quality of the air inside the homes. The promoters serve as strategic allies, multiplying outreach of the field technology. Each promoter has printed material to explain both the stove and the program. They also have access to a model stove for demonstration purposes, allowing them to disseminate the technology to nearby neighboring communities. Rural communities such as Candelaria, located 18 kilometers from Nagarote, often do not have skilled labor or access to materials needed to provide themselves with this important technology. By spreading the word through SosteNica's eco-technology promoters, awareness of the dangers of smoke inhalation and deforestation reaches very rural families.

“I am proud to be collaborating with SosteNica. This organization has come to an almost forgotten community, bringing us new ideas and technology to improve the quality of life here. I am the rural school coordinator for the community and I know the needs of my community. SosteNica and its programs are a real support for us. As a teacher and as part of this community, I am happy to support with my people.” said Teacher Aurora, one of our promoters. “I was born here. Together, we can multiply these stoves, and in the process, improve the conditions of many. I assure you, it will be fast.” she predicted excitedly.

One of the benefits of being a promoter is the installation, free of charge, of an in-home cook stove. Immediately after having installed a stove in Teacher Aurora’s home, neighbors began requesting stoves for their kitchens. One example is that of Mirelis, one of Aurora’s neighbors. She said: “Since I saw how little firewood the teacher needed to cook with, and that there was no smoke in her house, I said -- I want one too. It will help my family stop getting sick. Within a couple of days of placing my request, our friends at SosteNica built me one. I am very satisfied with the result, and I've decided to make other improvements to make my kitchen look more beautiful. Before the new stove was installed, when my children returned home from school, they could not even open their eyes due to the amount of smoke. I have been very sick, with a constant cough. Plus, the ceiling of my house is pitch black. I asked myself -- if my home is black, what must my lungs look like? And my children were headed in the same direction. Now I am much happier. I have no smoke, this stove is much safer. It does not heat up on the outside, It cooks faster and I even think that the food tastes better.

SosteNica's Nicaraguan program director Leysman smiled when he heard her comments. “Teahcer Aurora and Mrs. Mirelis are our inspiration. They are why we do this work. We are certain that they will promote this program without advertising, other than by word of mouth, throughout the different communities where we will build stoves. Thanks to the generous donations by people reading this report, families will get a subsidy towards the purchase of a new stove, fewer of their children will get sick, and fewer mothers will fall ill. It all translates into better education and better quality of life. Please become a promoter and support this important effort."

Mirelis and children stand by their new stove
Mirelis and children stand by their new stove
Building a stove
Building a stove

Links:

Nicaraguan children planting their future
Nicaraguan children planting their future

Every gift of $100 will plant 40 trees and build two stoves in rural Nicaragua.  Read more about how you can help.

"Chimneys and stove pipes have begun appearing on the houses around our village" noted Norma Elena, one of SosteNica's newest clients.  The village she refers to is Candelaria, a rural community 18 kilometers (11 miles) from the center of Nagarote, Nicaragua.  "The smoke coming from these chimneys attracts people's attention like a billboard.  Surely there will be more people interested in getting a clean, fuel efficient cookstove installed in their homes." she speculated.  "I hope that SosteNica will continue supporting us with this program.  My stove was one of the first to be installed and I am very happy with the results. My husband jokes that, now he will have a wife for many more years, because she no longer breathes smoke! It is very true. I get up very early every morning to make tortillas. The fire is burning, even while the children are sleeping. Before getting my new eco-stove designed by SosteNica, smoke filled our home.  There was no way to prevent my children from breathing it.  What a big difference now that the smoke is out of our house. I do not get so hot making my tortillas and our children don't have to breathe smoke. I'm going to tell all of my neighbors about the program so that they can get one too." 

When Nicaragua's economy recently tumbled into recession, many rural families found it impossible to afford even the modest  $100 price tag for a custom built eco-stove.  Thinking on their feet, the staff of the SosteNica EcoCentro found the perfect solution.  "If God gives us lemons, we will make lemonade!"  Leysman Mendez, SosteNica's Director in Nicaragua, organized a townhall style meeting to discuss one of Candelaria's glaring problems. The village has almost no trees standing.  Representatives of the 150 families living in Candelaria elected five residents to serve on a "community reforestation committee" to discuss how community members might help to solve the problem.  In their first committee meeting, they identified a number of village areas in need of reforestation.  They then created a list of people in town who might like to have a fuel efficient stove.  Their proposal -- each family that plants 20 trees (a mix of native hardwood and nitrogen fixers), donated by SosteNica, will get $50 knocked off the price their their stove.  SosteNica understands how micro-credit can help families with limited resources. By agreeing to pay for the stove in ten installments, a family can have a brand new Eco-Stove in their home for the affordable price of $5 a month.  Ten families immetiately signed up.  In the first reforestation effort, villagers planted 260 trees. In a show of good faith, SosteNica staff built the first ten stoves immediately. There is nothing better than lemonade on a hot day in Nicaragua!  Good work Candelaria.

One Reforestation Committee member noted the genius of connecting reforestation with the construction of fuel efficient stoves.  After all, they go hand in hand.  "Even as the stoves improve family health, they reduce the amound of wood being consumed.  If, at the same time, we are planting trees for the future, we are really doing something great for our community," commented one of the proud reforesters. 

Trees, especially young trees, capture carbon from the atmosphere. As far back as 2000, the IPCC issued a report which concluded that tree-planting could sequester between 1.1 and 1.6 gigatons of CO2 per year. Tree planting and reforestation were included as needed activities, eligible for finance under the Kyoto protocol. 

With your help, SosteNica could expand this program to other villages in rural Nicaragua.

Norma Elena
Norma Elena's new stove
Community Reforestation Day
Community Reforestation Day
Candelaria Reforestation Committee
Candelaria Reforestation Committee

Links:

Petrona with her old open fire kitchen
Petrona with her old open fire kitchen

One of the ways in which SosteNica amplifies the impact of our Eco-Stove project is by collaborating with other non-governmental organizations in Nicaragua. One such collaboration happened recently, working with Fundacion Vida (Foundation Life), a non-profit organization that supports the development of families in the Department of Masaya. Fundacion Vida asked SosteNica to teach them to build eco-stoves by doing a demonstration building project for several families in the community of El Comejen (the Termite), where more than 250 rural families have settled outside of Masaya.

Before agreeing to the collaboration our EcoCentro team visited the community to assess the need for, and the viability of, a partnership with Fundacion Vida. Our staff found most families cooking on open fires in enclosed areas, creating hazardous conditions of unhealthy indoor air quality as well as high risk of burns for young children.   At the same time, the signs of deforestation were everywhere evident. Anytime 250 households scavange for wood three times a day, the pressure on the natural world is extreme.

SosteNica’s team interviewed several residents of El Comejen about the situation. One campesino, Luis, said that while obtaining fire wood was not a hardship for him (he has a small farm with ample trees), his wife, four children and five grandchildren all suffer from smoke inhalation. Luis’s wife Petrona complained: “Even though I enjoy cooking, my eyes burn from the smoke, and sometimes at night I can’t breathe properly.” Our team confirmed that this situation was common throughout the community. Accordingly, they agreed to the partnership.

The model stoves were designed to demonstrate to the community the health and sustainability benefits of an enclosed fire box, with a chimney that vents smoke through the roof to the outside of the home. Because the stoves are more fuel efficient, residents will be burning less firewood and cooking food faster.

Don Luis’s family was one of those selected for the demonstration project. Prior to the SosteNica team’s arrival, he built a base according to the terms of the agreement. Our team drove two hours southeast, from Nagarote to Masaya, on the agreed upon day, where they found a base awaiting a new stove top. The family and other community members watched as the new stove design took shape. Petrona loved the stove, even before it was finished. She could see how much it would improve the quality of life for their family. Luis joked that the design incorporated witchcraft when the SosteNica team began to incorporate glass bottles in the body of the stove. Our lead construction mason explained that the bottles help maintain the appropriate temperature in the combustion chamber.

Like a cherry on top of an ice-cream sundae, as the stove came to completion, the chimney stove pipe was attached and passed through the kitchen roof.   Both Luis and Petrona shared with the construction team that this was the first time their family had ever had a proper stove in their kitchen. They promised to maintain the stove properly, thanking both organizations for helping them improve their quality of life.

By the end of the day, the SosteNica team returned home to Nagarote, satisfied that another community would be served by adopting SosteNica’s improved stove design. Having trained the team at Fundacion Vida, we are confident that the process will continue without need of our staff, other than occasional consulting. It was a beautiful day of teaching, helping families in need, and empowering a fellow NGO to promote eco-technologies in Nicaragua. This is, in part, what your generous donations continue to make possible for people in need. Many thanks to our donors. Every $50 donation adds one more stove to the Nicaraguan landscape. A small price for such a significant impact.

Stove construction process
Stove construction process
Luis & Petrona happy and proud of their new stove
Luis & Petrona happy and proud of their new stove

Links:

Old smoky stove
Old smoky stove

38 year-old Geissel O. just made an important change for her family.  A resident of the semi-urban Orlando Cáceres neighborhood of Nagarote, Geissel makes tortillas to sell to her neighbors. She gets up every morning at three AM and begins her day by building a fire in the kitchen.  Her first task is to boil fermented corn ("nixtamal") to grind into meal ("masa"), which she then hand throws to make her tortillas. Until she learned about SosteNica’s “improved stove program” she boiled her “nixtamal” over an unvented, open fire inside her home (see photo above). She and her three children breathed particulate matter of cook smoke all day long, every day.  From now on, thanks to SosteNica, no more smoke in the house.

 “I have two wood-fired stoves for cooking” she told us. “One I use for making tortillas. That one is not too bad because it is sealed with a chimney to vent the smoke. But the one that I use for preparing the corn masa is hot, smoky and dangerous. It consumes a lot of firewood and really heats up the house. For this reason I sought out SosteNica, hoping that they would help me resolve the problems of wood scarcity and inhalation of smoke. They custom designed a single burner stove for me. It works great. I love it. I’m no longer breathing smoke all day and I’m not worried about my children coming into the kitchen and getting burned while playing around an open fire. And thanks to the revolving loan program, I am able to pay off the stove a little bit at a time.”

SosteNica’s Nicaragua based team has accelerated our stove program. Last month alone (April, 2018) we installed nine improved stoves throughout the region, expanding our service area to include two new communities: Candelaria - ten miles from Nagarote as well as Valle de los Jiménez, six miles from downtown Nagarote. Each stove installed, while customized to meet the needs of the individual family, seeks to meet four objectives:

  1. to reduce heat in the home and family exposure to high temperatures in the kitchen;
  2. to reduce the danger of accidental burns;
  3. to improve air quality in the home;
  4. to reduce the consumption of firewood which saves money and time for the family and protects the enviornment.

In addition, we remain vigilant about the cultural significance of kitchens.  Nicaraguans view cooking as an art passed down from generation to generation.  Even the location of a stove can have meaning for a family where a beloved parent or grandparent may have prepared gallopinto and tortillas daily.  At SosteNica we respect those values by honoring each family's history.  We customize every stove's look and location to preserve family tradition, while guaranteeing the highest quality technology to reduce smoke and firewood consumption.

Thanks to your gifts, we are bringing these improvements to more Nicaraguan families every month.  Please help us spread the word.  More donations means more eco-stoves in Nicaragua.

New Eco-Stove
New Eco-Stove
Nixtamal corn being cooked
Nixtamal corn being cooked
Proud Geissel hard at work making tortillas
Proud Geissel hard at work making tortillas

Links:

A satisfied customer in Copaltepe
A satisfied customer in Copaltepe

Thanks to you, and donors like you, SosteNica has built more than 30 rural stoves around the municipality of Nagarote since the Ecological Cook Stove program began two years ago. Recently, we had our first warranty issue. Livida from Copaltepe received our very first demonstration stove two years back. Unfortunately, the test model had some problems that developed after construction. “The smoke was not exiting the chimney properly. It was returning through the firebox and coming into the house.”   When Livida saw how well some of the newer models were working at her neighbors, she asked if SosteNica would upgrade her stove to the newest model.

Given that SosteNica’s commitment is to improve each family’s quality of life, we immediately responded to doña Livida’s request, tearing out the interior of her two year-old stove. At no charge, we built her a new stove with all the up-to-date improvements. “I am definitely satisfied and very happy. Today my stove works perfectly and I will tell anyone – these stoves really work! My husband now only brings wood home once or twice a month. Before he had to get wood every week.”

The best advertising for the program is word of mouth, and there is nothing better than a satisfied customer. Today, Livida and her family are reporting to everyone that the SosteNica Cookstove program is achieving its objectives – less smoke in the home, and less wood consumption. By consuming less wood, the family spends less time harvesting firewood, which means they have more time for farming and gardening. It also reduces the deforestation pressure on the local surroundings.

Another recent customer, Petronila lives in San Roque, a village roughly 18 kilometers from Nagarote. “I never imagined that it would be possible to cook without having to be exposed to such high temperatures. Plus, I love that my daughter does not have to carry so much heavy wood. And the smoke is no longer killing us. I am definitely very pleased!” Their new stove has completely changed her quality of life, and will probably prolong her life expectancy.

These are only two examples of how your donations are making lives better for rural women and their families in Nicaragua.  Thank you!

Petronila from San Roque shows off her new stove
Petronila from San Roque shows off her new stove

Links:

 

About Project Reports

Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating.

Get Reports via Email

We'll only email you new reports and updates about this project.

Organization Information

SosteNica

Location: West Chester, PA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
SosteNica
Alan Wright
Project Leader:
Alan Wright
West Chester, PA United States

Retired Project!

This project is no longer accepting donations.
 

Still want to help?

Find another project in Nicaragua or in Environment that needs your help.
Find a Project

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence

Snorkeler
Our
Impact

Woman Holding a Gift Card
Give
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle
GlobalGiving
Guarantee

Sign up for the GlobalGiving Newsletter

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.