Archive for the ‘Stove’ Category

Mar24

Italian Power Company Partners with World Food Programme to Combat Hunger and Climate Change

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By Dana Drugmand

The United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) and Italian energy company Enel are teaming up in an effort to address food security and climate change by providing green cook stoves and solar panels to communities. The new partnership between WFP and Enel was announced at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP17) in Durban. Enel has pledged up to €8 million (US$10.7 million) in the agreement, which includes commitments by two Enel companies and the Enel Group’s nonprofit organization to support WFP humanitarian and environmental protection programs.

Through its SAFE Initiative, the World Food Programme is providing fuel-efficient cooking stoves to poor households, schools and community centers. (Photo credit: WFP)

Enel Trade has committed to support WFP’s Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy in Humanitarian Settings (SAFE) Initiative, which provides high-efficiency cooking stoves to schools, community centers and poor households for use in cooking WFP food rations. WFP has already distributed over 140,000 stoves to 927,000 people in Sudan, Uganda, Sri Lanka, and Haiti. The SAFE Initiative also aims to protect women against violence during firewood collection and to reduce deforestation and carbon emissions by making stoves more fuel-efficient. Enel Trade will work with WFP to develop a business model for generating carbon emission reduction credits by analyzing the use of these high-efficiency cook stoves.

Another Enel company, Enel Green Power, will help WFP decrease its carbon footprint by installing solar panels on UN Humanitarian Response Depots, sites managed by WFP where emergency supplies are handled and stored. Enel will pilot the solar initiative at sites in Italy, Panama, United Arab Emirates and Ghana.

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Dec31

Reality show demonstrates how developing countries can make sustainability a reality

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By Graham Salinger

Move over “Man V Food”, there is a new cooking show in town. “Stoveman” is a four part documentary series that follows the efforts of Greg Spencer, co-founder of The Paradigm Project, to bring environmentally friendly stoves to developing countries. The Paradigm Project was founded in 2007 to bring rocket stoves to rural communities in developing countries. To date, 13,136 stoves have been delivered and the aim is to deliver 5 million stoves to the by 2020. The video series offers viewers a glimpse of the challenges faced by those living in the developing world and ways that such challenges can be overcome through innovations like the rocket stove.

Greg Spencer carrying firewood with Kenyan women in the first episode of "Stoveman." (Photo credit: The Paradigm Project)

In many developing countries, up to 35 percent of income can be spent on fuel for cooking. The stoves that the Paradigm Project supplies help reduce this financial burden by decreasing the amount of oil required for cooking by 40-60 percent, which allows for more money to purchase seeds to grow nutritional crops. The project estimates that over five years, each stove saves almost USD 283.

In the first episode of “Stoveman,” Spencer and his colleague Austin Mann work with women in northern Kenya to gather wood. In the rural developing world, over 90 percent of energy consumption is either wood or other biomass. In the country of Kenya alone this leads to the consumption of over 100 million trees annually. The World Health Organization has also estimated that harmful stove smoke is the fourth worst overall health risk factor in developing countries, killing 1.6 million women and childreneach year. The Paradigm Project also trains farmers about the benefits of reducing carbon emission and stresses that harming the environment also harms crop yields.

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Jul09

Afterthought for some, daily struggle for others

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By Matt Styslinger

Our busy modern lives—reliant on easily available meals and a steady flow of electricity and gas for light and comfortable temperatures—allow us little chance to ponder the origins of the resources we consume for our daily needs.

Solar cookers provide an easy, less fuel intensive, and environmentally sound way to prepare food. (Photo credit: Izaak Van Melle)

Now imagine spending up to four hours a day gathering those resources, and that consuming them for your daily needs emitted toxic smoke directly into your home, endangering the health of you and your family.

This is the reality for more than half of the people in the world who burn wood and other biomass—including charcoal, agricultural waste, and animal dung—for cooking, boiling water, lighting, and heating. Those with limited resource options are in need of simple, clean, and inexpensive alternatives, like solar cookers, to help them meet their most basic needs.

Inhaling smoke from open fires and traditional stoves in poorly ventilated houses and other indoor environments kills 1.6 million people every year. The upper respiratory diseases caused by inhaling open fire smoke are the biggest killers of children under 5 years old in the developing world. The smoke also contributes to respiratory infection, glaucoma, lung cancer, and other debilitating health conditions. Collecting biomass spurs deforestation and consumes time—time that could be spent in school or earning much needed income. Poor health, environmental degradation, lack of education, and insufficient incomes are among the root causes of poverty.

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Mar30

Nourishing the Planet TV: Building a Methane Fueled Fire

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In this week’s episode, media intern Mara Schechter explains how biogas stoves take advantage of what is typically considered waste to provide a clean and safe source of energy. Biogas units use methane from manure to produce electricity, heat and fertilizer, emitting  significantly less smoke and carbon monoxide than other sources of fuel and reducing the amount of time that women spend gathering firewood. Smoke inhalation-related illnesses result in 1.5 million deaths per year worldwide, and the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) estimates that women spend up to 10 hours per week gathering wood for cook fires in some rural areas.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3jDu8Wdhug

To read more, see: Building a Methane Fueled Fire

To purchase State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

Mar01

What Works: Putting Cooked Food on the Table

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By Molly Theobald

This post is part of a series where Nourishing the Planet asks its readers: What works? Every week we’ll ask the question and every week you can join the conversation!

For half the world’s population, every meal depends on an open fire that is fueled by wood, coal, animal dung, and other materials. These indoor cook fires consume large amounts of fuel–in some rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa women spend up to 10 hours or more a week gathering wood. The fires emit smoke, carbon dioxide, and other dangerous toxins into the air, blackening the insides of homes and leading to respiratory diseases, especially among women and children. Smoke inhalation-related illnesses result in 1.5 million deaths per year.

bio-gas-heifer-international-stove-methane-livestock-climate-change

Biogas units use methane from manure to produce electricity, heat, and fertilizer while emitting significantly less smoke and carbon monoxide than other sources of fuel. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

But a number of low-cost and low-input innovations are helping small-scale farmers to improve the efficiency of their cook fires while also reducing the amount of labor and fuel needed to maintain them.  In Uganda, the organization GTZ, with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ),  is helping farmers to combat deforestation by introducing solar cookers and other energy efficient stoves. Solar cookers work by absorbing and concentrating heat from the sun to cook food without the need for any kind of combustible fuel.  Over the last few years, over 100,000 of these kinds of stoves have been distributed to rural households.

In Eritrea, the IFAD-funded Gash Barka Livestock and Agricultural Development Project (GBLADP) helped one farmer, Tekie Mekerka, make the most of the manure his 30 cows produce by helping to install a biogas unit on his farm. Biogas units use methane from manure to produce electricity, heat, and fertilizer while emitting significantly less smoke and carbon monoxide than other sources of fuel. Now, says Mekerka, “we no longer have to go out to collect wood for cooking, the kitchen is now smoke-free, and the children can study at night because we have electricity.” Additionally, Mekerka is using the organic residue left by the biogas digester as fertilizer for his family’s new vegetable garden.

In Kenya, the organization Practical Action has introduced a fireless cooker to reduce household dependence on wood charcoal and other forms of fuel. Made easily by hand from clay, fireless cookers use insulation to store heat from traditional stoves that can then be used to cook foods over a longer period of time. Meals that are placed in a fireless cooker in the morning are baked with the stored heat and ready to eat later that day, reducing the need to continuously fuel traditional cook fires.

And in Sri Lank and Kenya, Practical Action is working with womens’ groups to build and sell ceramic biomas stoves called the Anagi and the Upesi.  Biomas stoves are fueled by any organic material, including wood pellets, corn, manure, or other natural wastes. In Sri Lanka more than 400 women have been trained to produce Anagi stoves and in Kenya there are 13 women’s groups who make and sell around 11,000 Upesi stoves per year, helping to not only improve cooking and heating efficiency,  but also to improve local livelihoods.

What other ways are people improving the efficiency, safety and environmental sustainability of their cookstoves?

Tell Nourishing the Planet what works and have your answers featured on the blog. Email me at Dnierenberg@Worldwatch.org or tweet your response to @WorldWatchAg.

Molly Theobald is a research fellow with the Nourishing the Planet project.

Aug28

Video Spotlight of the Week

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Nourishing the Planet features a video each week to give you an inside peek at the different projects we see on the ground that are working to alleviate hunger and poverty. We showcase past favorites and some brand new videos you’ve never seen.  Check out Nourishing the Planet’s Youtube channel to see more.  

This week we highlight one of your favorite videos. See below to learn how a biogas stove works from our interview with Madame Helen Bahikwe, a Heifer International beneficiary.

Mar25

Innovation of the Week: Reducing the Things They Carry

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Photo: Bernard Pollack

Photo: Bernard Pollack

The majority of farmers in sub-Saharan Africa— in some areas up to 80 percent— are women. The average female farmer in the region is responsible not only for growing food but also for collecting water and firewood—putting in a 16-hour workday.

Deforestation and drought brought on by climate change have further increased women’s time spent doing activities like gathering firewood and collecting water for bathing, cooking, and cleaning. Many women in Africa lack access to resources and technologies that might make these tasks easier, such as improved hoes, planters, and grinding mills; rainwater harvesting systems; and lightweight transport devices.

In Kenya, the organization Practical Action has introduced a fireless cooker to reduce household dependence on wood charcoal and other forms of fuel. Made easily by hand and at home, fireless cookers use insulation to store heat from traditional stoves that can then be used to cook foods over a longer period of time. Meals that are placed in a fireless cooker in the morning are baked with the stored heat and ready to eat later that day, reducing the need to continuously fuel traditional cook fires.

Meanwhile, biogas units that are fueled by livestock manure can save, on average, 10 hours of labor per week that would otherwise be spent collecting wood or other combustibles. The Rwandan government, recognizing the value of this time savings, hopes to have 15,000 households nationwide using biogas by 2012, and is subsidizing installation costs. (See also “Building a Methane Fueled Fire” and “Got Biogas?”)

The “Mosi-o-Tunya” (Pump that Thunders) pressure pump, produced by International Development Enterprises (IDE), is a lightweight pump that sits on top of a well and is operated by foot. The pump’s weight makes it easy to operate as well as to transport by foot or bike. Veronica Sianchenga, a farmer living in Kabuyu Village, Zambia, explained how, in addition to improving her family’s diet and income, the pump gave her more independence: “Now we are not relying only on our husbands, because we are now able to do our own projects and to assist our husbands, to make our families look better, eat better, clothe better—even to have a house.” (See also “Access to Water Improves Quality of Life for Women and Children.”)

In Ethiopia, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) helped women living in the rural lowlands near Ajo improve their incomes and livelihoods by creating a milk marketing group. Before the USAID-funded project was implemented, women were carrying 1–2 liters of milk for seven or eight hours to sell at the nearest market in Dire Dawa. The milk would sell for only some 20 cents a liter, and after spending the night in town, the women returned home only to make the same trip again days later, forcing them to neglect their homes and gardens. Now, the women take turns selling each other’s milk at the market, making the long trip only once every 10 days and keeping all of the profits from the day, putting some of the money into savings and using the rest to pay for food, school, and household supplies.

Jan28

Building a Methane-Fueled Fire: Innovation of the Week

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Madame Helen Bahikwe received government help to purchase her biogas unit and is now more easily cooking for her 10-person family and improving hygiene on the farm with hot water for cleaning. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Madame Helen Bahikwe received help from the Rwandan government to purchase her biogas unit. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

For half the world’s population, every meal depends on an open fire that is fueled by wood, coal, dung, and other smoke-producing combustibles. These indoor cookfires consume large amounts of fuel and emit carbon dioxide and other dangerous toxins into the air, blackening the insides of homes and leading to respiratory diseases, especially among women and children.

Biogas, however, takes advantage of what is typically considered waste, providing a cleaner and safer source of energy. Biogas units use methane from manure to produce electricity, heat, and fertilizer while emitting significantly less smoke and carbon monoxide than other sources of fuel. Access to an efficient, clean-burning stove not only saves lives—smoke inhalation-related illnesses result in 1.5 million deaths per year—it also reduces the amount of time that women spend gathering firewood, which the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) estimates is 10 hours per week for the average household in some rural areas.

The IFAD-funded Gash Barka Livestock and Agricultural Development Project (GBLADP) helped one farmer in Eritrea, Tekie Mekerka, make the most of the manure his 30 cows produce by helping to install a biogas unit on his farm (similar to the unit that Danielle saw in Rwanda with Heifer International). Now, says Mekerka, “we no longer have to go out to collect wood for cooking, the kitchen is now smoke-free, and the children can study at night because we have electricity.”Additionally, Mekerka is using the organic residue left by the biogas process as fertilizer for his family’s new vegetable garden.

In Rwanda, the government is making biogas stove units more accessible by subsidizing installation costs, and it hopes to have 15,000 households nationwide using biogas by 2012.  While visiting with Heifer Rwanda, Danielle met Madame Helen Bahikwe, who, after receiving government help to purchase her biogas unit, is now more easily cooking for her 10-person family and improving hygiene on the farm with hot water for cleaning.

In China, IFAD found that biogas saved farmers so much time collecting firewood that farm production increased. In Tanzania, the Foundation for Sustainable Rural Development (SURUDE), with funding from UNDP, found that each biogas unit used in their study reduced deforestation by 37 hectares per year. And in Nigeria, on a much larger scale, methane and carbon dioxide produced by a water purifying plant is now being used to provide more affordable gas to 5,400 families a month, thanks to one of the largest biogas installations in Africa.

To read more about how waste can be turned into a source of fuel, energy, and nutrition see: Making Fuel Out of Waste, Growing Food in Urban “Trash,” ECHOing a Need for Innovation in Agriculture, Keeping Weeds for Nutrition and Taste, and Vertical Farms: Finding Creative Ways to Grow Food in Kibera.

If you know of other ways people are making the most of their waste and would like to share it with us, we encourage you to leave a comment or fill out our agriculture innovation survey here.

Dec23

Got Biogas?

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Madame Helen has five cows and uses methane from their manure to cook all her meals with a biogas stove (photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Madame Helen has five cows and uses methane from their manure to cook all her meals with a biogas unit (photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

This is the third in a four-part series on my visit to Heifer International projects in Gicumbi District in Rwanda.

In addition to milk and income, dairy farmers also get another important resource from their cows—manure. While raw manure can be composted for use on crops, cow dung can also be a source of fuel for households.

Madame Helen Bahikwe, another farmer in Gicumbi District, began working with Heifer International in 2002. She now has five cows—and an excess of manure. With a subsidy from the government as part of the National Biogas Program, Madame Helen built a biogas collection tank, which allows her to use the methane from decomposing manure to cook for her 10 person family. She no longer has to collect or buy firewood, saving both time and money and protecting the environment. The fuel is also cleaner burning, eliminating the smoke that comes from other sources of fuel.

And according to Mukerema Donatilla, another farmer we met, biogas “helps with hygiene” on the farm because they can use hot water to clean cow udders before milking and for cleaning milk containers.

Both Mukerema and Madame Helen had to contribute about $USD 700 for the materials to install their biogas units, while the government contributed about $USD 400. With funding from SNV, a Netherlands-based organization and the Rwanda Ministry of Infrastructure, the government hopes to have 15,000 households in the country collecting and using biogas by 2012.