Like many others throughout the developing world, the pastoral people with whom we work cook on open, indoor fires.The smoke is highly toxic, causing an international health challenge negatively affecting the Maasai in our service areas, among millions of others.
To address this challenge, we successfully partnered with Maasai Stoves & Solar Project over the course of several years. The leaders of the Maasai Stoves & Solar Women’s Installation team trained our women to install smoke-removing, wood-burning chimney stoves, initially in 150 homes in 2016 in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and eventually several dozen others.
With this partnership, homes became healthier and children safer. Local people learned new skills and found new ways to earn additional income.
With only a fraction of wood-gathering time required, women with stoves are free to embrace other aspects of their lives, addressing poverty and its results. One of the best aspects of this project was that women we visited opened their homes and use of new stoves to their neighbors, so their impact goes well beyond individual household.
There are many benefits to the Maasai Stoves & Solar Project:
- Reduction of the polluting particulate level from cooking smoke by 90 percent, alleviating chronic coughing and head congestion, primarily in women and children
- One stove reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 3.6 metric tons per year
- Reduction of carbon monoxide levels in the home by 90 percent, eliminating low-level poisoning
- Eliminated the danger of burns to toddlers caused by open cooking fires in their homes
- Pollution-free and odor-free lighting motivates kids to read and study
- Maasai women who join stove installation teams are profoundly appreciative of the opportunity to learn to use tools and master construction and design challenges, and report feeling authentically empowered
- Each stove saves the woman of the house 10-12 hours of weekly wood-gathering labor
- Each stove saves 120 pounds of firewood per week, reducing deforestation
- Greater appreciation of the power of a collective of women, and not just individual women
- There is more time for farming and for starting businesses and other enterprise
The women we spoke with loved their stoves and asked for more. We hope MSS will one day be able to return to our region and help our communities install more stoves!