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Jambo Africa Tourism Organization Network (Jatonet) – Kenya

Jatonet uses quick-growing, robust bamboo to address environmental problems and benefit marginalized groups in Kenya. This project’s workshop in the county of Bungoma produces efficient jiko cook stoves, specially designed to burn bamboo as an alternative to other woods. In addition to encouraging bamboo cultivation, the project also engages women and other more vulnerable populations to create artisanal products from recycled or renewable materials.

Fast facts:

  • 1,000 households practicing bamboo farming
  • 600 households using energy-saving jiko cook stoves from the Jatonet workshop
  • 75 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from the clean cook stoves

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The problem

As in other areas of Western Kenya, poverty is widespread in Bungoma County. At the same time, the local population is growing, depleting natural resources and exacerbating environmental problems. For example, demand for wood to burn for cooking is driving deforestation in the region. Not only do Kenyans – mostly women and girls – spend a great deal of time gathering fuel wood, but burning the wood also releases health-harming smoke and greenhouse gases that are contributing to global warming.

The solution

Jambo Africa Tourism Organization Network, or Jatonet, is a community-based organization in Bungoma that encourages farmers in the region to plant bamboo for burning in ceramic or metal jiko cook stoves. Jatonet runs a workshop where underprivileged locals produce the jiko cook stoves, which are then supplied to the market.

The workshop recycles metal scraps to make the stoves, and also other materials like plastic waste to produce handbags. Bamboo is also made into artisanal products such as floor mats. The project, which is based in a region with several minority tribes, in particular aims to empower women and other marginalized populations.

Helping the planet

Bamboo cover on local farms has curbed erosion and captured carbon from the atmosphere. Use of bamboo in efficient jiko cook stoves prevents deforestation, as well as emission of greenhouse gases and smoke.

Helping people

Cleaner cook stoves mean higher-quality indoor air, which prevents lung cancer, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses. Jatonet’s workshop has created jobs and shifted the local economy away from subsistence agriculture in the region, not to mention saved women time that was previously spent gathering fuel wood. The project’s focus on vulnerable and marginalized populations is helping to build social capital and stability.

Spillover effect

Since its inception four years ago, the project has grown to 1,000 households cultivating bamboo and 600 households using the efficient jiko stoves. It aims to continue to scale up further. Jatonet’s environment- and people-friendly model is suitable for many rapidly urbanizing areas transitioning out of a subsistence economy.

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