“I love that we are protecting the environment and saving trees. I also love seeing happy customers and knowing that we are helping them to have better health.” – Catalina Somoza Calderon
In Nicaragua, there are over 4,000 small tortilla-making businesses that provide much needed income to poor households. Nearly all tortilla-makers are women who make the tortillas on a simple hotplate over an open wood fire. Cooking over these open fires exposes women and their children to high levels of toxic smoke, plus fuel wood is very expensive.
Our partners at Proleña have been working to improve the design of these wood burning stoves since it began in Honduras in 1993. It started working in Nicaragua in 1996.
The Ecostove is the product of several years of development by Proleña and their partners, including Trees, Water & People (TWP). Traditionally, tortillas have been baked on a plancha (griddle) over fires. These open fires are very inefficient and use a lot of wood and fill kitchens with deadly smoke, leading to disease and premature deaths.
The key advantages of the Ecostove is its enclosed firebox with insulated walls that increase its efficiency, a chimney that removes smoke from the home, and its portability. Many stove models are constructed within the user’s home, utilizing earth and bricks, but the Ecostove designs can be manufactured at a central location and then delivered to users in different parts of the country, creating local jobs and increased scale of clean cookstove projects.
Catalina Somoza Calderon is one person who has benefited from Proleña’s cookstove program. She has worked for Proleña for nine years and is very passionate about her job and the mission of the organization. Not only does she have employment promoting clean cookstoves to women, she also uses the Ecostoves in her own home.
Catalina uses one of the small, portable stoves known as the rapidito, or “the quick one.” She says, “I like the stove because it has saved me a lot of money on fuel and doesn’t turn my pots and pans black.”
This is a great example of how we strive to not only protect the environment, but also improve people’s livelihoods. Our local partners always manage conservation projects with community and family well-being in mind!