Improved Cook Stoves for East Africa - Rwanda
This initiative is taking a market-based approach in stimulating Rwandan households to switch to
better kitchen practices and save firewood. “Improved Cook Stoves for East Africa”
extends a successful project from Malawi to Rwandan women for them to locally produce improved cook
stoves, which improve their quality of life and help address the problem of climate change.
- 3,425 households reached
- 1.75 tonnes of wood saved per household per year
- More than 250 men and women directly involved
Many East African households depend on biomass for cooking and heating. In Rwanda, 95 percent of people use
solid fuels for cooking, while further south in Malawi, biomass meets 93 of energy needs. But dependency on
solid biomass such as firewood is harming the environment, as overharvesting of wood degrades the land and
contributes to climate change. Burning wood for fuel also causes indoor air pollution that adversely
affects populations that are already disadvantaged, in particular women and children.
Companies Hestian Innovations and Billem Innovations are heading up a
project for women in Rwandan communities to install and sell a clay-based, more efficient Canarumwe stove.
Production is simple and partially mechanized, and uses local materials. Along with stove installation,
households are also trained in a variety of practices to better manage the kitchen and improve fuel
Imparted efficiency measures include collecting small branches instead of cutting down whole trees, growing
their own fuel, and using dry firewood that minimizes smoke emissions. Good kitchen management practices
include usage of only a small quantity of firewood, dry firewood only, a lid on pots to retain heat,
soaking beans before cooking, and preparing all ingredients before lighting the fire. The initiative also
encourages households in Rwanda to consume less firewood, and consider trying other forms of solid biomass
such as crop residues and briquettes.
Helping the planet
The project aims for efficient and sustainable tapping of natural resources - using less forest resources
at the household level helps preserve such resources for the community. Leaving trees standing allows them
to carry out an important carbon-storage function, addressing the problem of climate change.
Collecting less firewood from forests can also prevent erosion and sedimentation of rivers, which is
harming ecosystems and hydropower generation. Using more efficient stoves also means less air pollution,
both indoors and out.
Households save time, effort, money, and possible bodily harm by utilizing more efficient cook stoves.
Stoves improve quality of life by reducing exposure of especially women and children to smoke. They also
allow Rwandans to invest more time in activities besides collecting firewood. Through money generated by
selling stoves, they are able to do things like pay school fees, improve their homes, and buy livestock.
The Rwandan project is to some extent a replication of a similar project in Malawi. It’s still in its
beginning stages, targeting households in 11 of Rwanda’s 30 districts. While low-income rural
households are currently being targeted, the project will eventually include middle-income households as
well as other biomass efficiency projects, such as green charcoal production, green brick production, and
development of productive thermal appliances.
Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.