In our Lubutu partnership in the Democratic Republic of Congo, mud stoves may be the answer to saving forest and empowering women at the same time.
Wood used for fuel, up to 2,000 tonnes every year just in this partnership, has a big impact on the forest.
Not only that, open cooking fires are dangerous to health: globally, household air pollution from cooking fires kills more children every year than AIDS or malaria combined.1
With Cool Earth’s support, the community are testing three alternatives to traditional wood fired stoves. One of the stove options being tested in the Lubutu partnership is a homemade mud stove. After training, community members can make and maintain these stoves themselves, using materials that are all available locally. These stoves use less wood than traditional stoves and three-stone fire and emit less smoke.
Crucially, these types of stoves mean women and girls spend less time gathering wood and tending to fires, freeing them up to go to school, carry out income-generating activities, and spend more time with their families.
If this is the chosen stove, a team consisting of one or two women from each village will be trained to build and maintain them. These women will provide training and run workshops in their home villages to share this knowledge.
Creating this empowered network of women who can support and guide each other will make the transition to the new stoves easier. It will also provide an alternative means of income, up to 90% of which will be reinvested in other social benefits.
Without having to collect as much fuelwood, girls will have more time to go to school and study, increasing their chances of staying in education for longer.
So how do you make a life-changing stove? Mud, mostly.