Conserving Guatemala’s Forests with Clean Cookstoves

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Community members gather for a clean cookstove demo hosted by Utz Che’. Local women help to design the fuel-efficient stoves based on their cooking habits and preferences.

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

After six months of planning, we are proud to launch into an ambitious clean cookstove initiative with our partner Utz Che’ in Guatemala.  From now through August 2016, Trees, Water & People (TWP) and Utz Che’ will be building 500 new clean cookstoves in three indigenous communities in the departments of Chiquimula, Jutiapa, and Escuintla.

Clean cookstoves provide many benefits to rural, indigenous families who do not have access to the electrical grid. These stoves remove smokey, open fires from the kitchen, greatly reducing deadly household air pollution. In addition to the human health benefits, cookstoves also reduce deforestation. In Guatemala, over 71% of the nation’s 14 million people are dependent on wood to cook every meal. This demand for fuelwood has put a huge strain on one of the country’s most precious natural resources: the forests.  Each stove uses about 50% less wood every time a meal is cooked, taking pressure off of the country’s forests and saving families money and time.

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Utz Che’ (“good tree” in the Maya K’iche’ language) is a unique organization as it is an association that represents 36 autonomous indigenous groups from around Guatemala, all working toward economic and environmental sustainability.  Utz Che’ helps these groups navigate the complex Guatemalan laws that govern property and natural resource rights, and advocates in the legal realm for communities to retain management and ownership of their land and resources.

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At a clean cookstove demonstration hosted by Utz Che’, local women test cookstove models that they will eventually use in their own homes.

TWP adds to the portfolio of Utz Che’ services by helping to build community tree nurseries, supporting training opportunities for Utz Che’ field staff and community members, and raising funds for clean cookstove initiatives, such as this one.  This is our community-based philosophy in action – partnering with local organizations to access remote communities, in order to collaboratively achieve local conservation goals and improve quality of life.

TWP’s work does not happen without the support of our donors here in the US.  That said, I encourage you to help us deliver the best service possible by donating to this and other TWP programs using the button below.  Over the next six months we will be posting updates about our Guatemala clean cookstove initiative, so sign up for our eNewsletter to watch our progress!

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Trees, Water & People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to developing sustainable community-based conservation solutions.

3 thoughts on “Conserving Guatemala’s Forests with Clean Cookstoves”

    1. I imagine they are designed with a return chamber that can heat a small chimney inside that ignitis combustible elements in the smoke to: 1 lessen smoke & 2 use less wood since the heat is stronger longer and more efficient for the wood used.

    2. The key to the higher combustion rates and efficiency achieved by our clean cookstoves is the “rocket elbow” combustion chamber. The Rocket elbow, created by Aprovecho Research Center engineer Larry Winiarski, is the key to the efficiency of many clean cookstoves. This L-shaped combustion chamber allows wood to burn up to 70% more efficiently, creating a cleaner and more complete burn. Learn more at: http://treeswaterpeople.org/programs/clean_cookstoves/rocket_elbow.html

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