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Improved Cookstoves, Kenya

Tackling household air pollution and deforestation with improved cookstoves in Kenya

Project Type: Health and livelihoods, Clean cooking

Standards: Gold Standard

2015 Rodney Rascona for The Paradigm Project
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This project aims to tackle key development issues through efficient cooking products. The objective is to serve the most vulnerable communities across Kenya, tackling health issues of traditional cookstoves, reducing dependence on non-renewable biomass sources, while promoting financial security and female empowerment. Carbon finance is used to subsidise sales and support the distribution of the stoves to underserved communities. 251,000 stoves have been sold across all eight provinces in Kenya.

Through distribution networks that serve customers at the base of the pyramid, this project helps households and institutions throughout the entire country purchase efficient wood or charcoal cookstoves to replace traditional three-stone fires or other inefficient stoves. The stoves are sold (along with other ‘eco-products’ such as solar lanterns and water filters) through a local partner franchise model that helps ensure effective financing, marketing, and support to both end customers and local charter partners.

Over 95% of households depend on wood or other solid fuels for cooking in Kenya

Sustainable Development Goals

In addition to delivering approximately 950,000 tonnes of emissions reductions to date to help take urgent action to combat climate change (SDG 13), the project delivers a number of other sustainable development benefits. These include:

  • Good Health and Wellbeing for People: Burning biomass (such as wood fuels, charcoal and dung) in traditional stoves for daily cooking needs releases substances hazardous to human health including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, particulate matter and black carbon. As improved cookstoves reduce fuel consumption by 50%, the project has been monitoring changes in reported smoke, and incidences of dizziness, headaches, irritated eyes and difficulty breathing amongst local populations since they started using their improved stoves, with the majority of users reporting enhanced well-being. In addition, in 2014, nearly half of sales (20,000 stoves) were to Somali refugees and host communities in the north of Kenya (in the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps). These stoves will help reduce the risk of violence that women face when collecting wood outside their refugee camps, by reducing the frequency with which firewood must be collected.
  • Affordable and Clean Energy: Improved cookstoves use simple design enhancements to burn biomass fuel more efficiently. A well-designed wood or charcoal burning efficient stove will reduce the fuel used in cooking by about 50%, while reducing toxic emissions by up to 70%. The improved cookstoves and their increased efficiency enable households and institutions that purchase fuelwood or charcoal to save money on fuel costs. Most users are able to pay back the stove cost within a few months.

Read More information to find out how the project delivers other sustainable development benefits.

  • No Poverty: To ensure effective financing for end consumers, the project works with a number of local partners, including a variety of formal microfinance institutions (MFIs) such as One Acre Fund and the Kenya-based NGO, SISDO. It also offers direct consumer financing, allowing it to support bottom of the pyramid groups who may not have access to microfinance institutions.
  • Gender Equality: The project is focused on facilitating the recruitment and success of women as cookstove entrepreneurs, with a third of distribution businesses now owned by women. Beyond participating in the business, women also benefit from using improved cookstoves – with reduced symptoms of bad health from indoor air pollution, less time spent cooking, and less time spent collecting fuel.
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth: The project has created more than 200 jobs so far in local manufacturing and sales. Project operations in Kenya include a team of 14 full-time and two part-time employees, and positions continue to grow as distribution scales. Last-mile supply chains are accessed through a franchise model called “EzyLife” that provides operational systems, finance, marketing and strategic support to local sales partners. Those “EzyLife” partners have sold 150,000 improved stoves along with other products to bottom of the pyramid customers through traditional wholesale, retail outlets and highly trained local sales associates called “EzyAgents”.
  • Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: The clean cookstoves are already locally manufactured with more investment in Nairobi-based manufacturing aiming to enable the production of over 100,000 stoves per year. The project has helped grow the EzyAgents’ supply chain to a network of over 225 distribution businesses, helping to scale these and other businesses’ product offerings in Kenya.
  • Life on Land: It is estimated that 96% of households depend on wood or other solid fuels for their cooking energy needs in Kenya, with 92% of this wood sourced from non-renewable sources. This improved cookstoves project therefore aims to help reduce such biodiversity pressures.

The number of premature deaths from household air pollution is greater than the number of deaths from malaria or tuberculosis.

Chukulisa Karani's Story

For me and my family the Envirofit is the best. It saves wood and saves my money, and because I don’t have to walk 14 kilometers every two days for more wood, it gives me more time with my boys. For me, that’s the most important benefit of all.

Photo © 2015 Rodney Rascona for The Paradigm Project

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