Stoves for Life – Energy-Efficient Cook Stove Project in Kakamega –
This project promotes locally made, efficient stoves to help conserve Kenya’s remaining
“Stoves for Life – Energy-Efficient Cook Stove Project in Kakamega,” women
and youth manufacture efficient ceramic wood-burning stoves and sell them in their communities to
replace the traditional (and inefficient) three-stone hearth. The work helps to make conservation
profitable for women.
- 261 people employed, 171 of which are women
- 9,200 stoves installed
- 16,000 tons of firewood saved per year
The Kakamega rainforest represents the last remnants of Kenya’s lowland rainforest. It is home to an
immense variety of unique and threatened animals and plants. Despite having a protected status, the
Kakamega Forest is being severely damaged and degraded by the extraction of resources. The surrounding area
is one of the most densely populated rural regions of the world, and 90 per cent of the people living there
depend on the forest’s resources for wood fuel and livelihood.
The Kakamega Forest has decreased by almost 50 per cent since being established in 1933. Most rural
households there cook with wood on a traditional hearth comprised of three stones – an inefficient
method that wastes a great deal of energy.
Women and youth groups manufacture a ceramic-lined, wood-burning “Upesi” stove, with a
compartment underneath that focuses the heat directly upward instead of in all directions like a
traditional three-stone fire. These efficient stoves decrease firewood use by 40 per cent, resulting in
emissions reductions of 2 to 3 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per household annually.
The women are trained in product quality control, business administration, and business management, which
develop their leadership skills. Local materials are used for stove production, which is subsidized by the
sale of carbon credits. Local populations are thus incentivized to conserve the forest instead of cut it
Helping the planet
Less wood needed for cooking reduces the extractive pressure being put on the Kakamega Forest, contributing
to its conservation. Leaving the trees standing allows habitat to remain for the forest’s unique
species, preserving biodiversity. More sustainable use of forest resources also prevents the release of
carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, fending off further climate change.
The project provides direct employment to communities around the forest, allowing stove manufacturers to
earn more than three times what they did before. The women use the additional income to purchase land and
cattle, pay for school fees, and build permanent homes.
Those who use the stoves spend less time collecting firewood. This allows them spend more time on other
things, like education for example. Less smoke from the stoves has resulted in cleaner kitchens, better
indoor air quality, less eye irritation, less coughing and fewer headaches.
The project is continuously scaling up its activities to new communities around Kakamega Forest, and plans
to distribute 52,000 efficient cook stoves to rural households in communities adjacent to the forest over a
period of seven years. The project also plans to include schools, small restaurants, and hotels in the
future, and to provide efficient cooking technologies for institutional and commercial customers. Since the
installation of the Upesi stove is cheap and uses local materials and labor, the activity is easily
replicable in other communities.
Images owned by the activity partners, all rights reserved.