In partnership with Catapult, we have raised funds to support 100 clean cookstoves in Guatemala. Thanks to generous donors, the project was fully funded. Ut’z Che’, a local environmental conservation and community development organization on the ground in Guatemala, will install the cookstoves. These life-changing stoves will replace open fire stoves that consumes massive amounts of wood and pollute homes with indoor air pollution.
Local partner Ut’z Ché has had preliminary meetings with three communities, in which we will implement the next phase of the cookstove program. Our approach always involves several initial meetings to ensure community buy-in and to establish the co-investment plan. Usually home visits are conducted to ensure a match between cooking customs and the proposed cookstove design, the community is given a list of materials for each household to prepare prior to construction, and a timeline is set to 1) build a few demonstration stoves for feedback, and 2) begin full roll out of the program.
Construction in the three communities is scheduled to start this month, with two new clean cookstove models being tested for efficacy and acceptance by beneficiaries. Among those trained to install the cookstoves will be youth groups in the different communities, adding an important, specialized skill set to their portfolio, and some much needed income to their pockets.
Risks and Challenges
With any clean cookstove project, you have to make sure that the technology you propose matches the needs and cooking habits in the community where it will be used. In Guatemala that challenge is especially pertinent, as there are over 20 ethnic groups in the country, many with their own specialized cooking preferences. For the 100 cookstoves funded by this Catapult project, we will be presenting three variations on our local cookstove design, the Emelda stove, to account for cultural and culinary differences. Additionally, due to our limited capacity, we will have to stagger the implementation of these projects to coincide with demand, availability of materials and road conditions during the rainy season.
Rosa Jerónimo de Ortiz: “With the traditional stove I used before, my kitchen walls were always black from the amount of smoke that it produced. My husband and children didn’t like to spend time in the kitchen with me because their eyes would tear up, especially during the rainy season when firewood comes damp. When this cookstove project started, the women of my community were overjoyed, as these projects benefit us principally. Now I even have my kitchen table in the same room as the stove!”
Next steps include building demonstration stoves in the three communities where we plan to work. We always learn from this experience, as we get direct feedback from the eventual users about what will work for them and what will not. After the designs are agreed upon, we will initiate construction in groups of 20 – 25 in each community, aiming to entice even more participants to invest in an improved cookstove design as we install the 100 funded by this project.
To learn more about this project please visit www.catapult.org.