Photo of the Week: Clean Cookstoves Save Lives

Three billion people around the world still cook every meal over an open, smoky fire. This leads to two million deaths every year, mostly among women and children. Clean cookstoves replace open fires, greatly reducing indoor air pollution and deforestation in developing countries. Cooking shouldn’t kill! (Photo: A mother and her child with their new Justa clean cookstove in Honduras.)



From El Salvador, with Love

We recently received this beautiful letter from Sara Gale, a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in the rural village of Rio Abajo, El Salvador, who we trained to build clean cookstoves as part of our partnership with the Peace Corps and the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas. This letter is a reminder of how important our work is to families who live each day in a state of energy poverty, with no access to basic energy. We are honored to work with Sara and all the other PCVs who are dedicating years of their life in service to others. Thank you, Sara!

Dear Trees, Water & People,

On behalf of my community in rural El Salvador I want to thank you all for your amazing and generous work. We enjoyed having Sebastian, Elliot, and Ken visit in August. I believe that they saw how in love the families are with their Estufas Justas! The work that you guys do to design, monitor and re-design is so valuable to so many people of the world. Although I see the stove as perfect now, I’m certain with your help it will be even closer to perfection in the years to come. Thank you for making this work your life passion; it was obvious by the enthusiasm, expertise and experience of Sebastian in improved cookstoves that my community of Río Abajo is in great hands with Trees, Water & People. Although my end of service is in March of the coming year I hope to extend in my site a year longer to be able to monitor the 41 stoves in my project and hopefully build 60 more in a second phase in the coming months. We are currently working on getting replacement planchas up in the community, as that thickness of sheet metal isn’t sold anywhere near here. I’m looking forward to continuing my work here for an extra year and to seeing how each household continues to care for and appreciate their Estufa Justa.

¡Gracias de Corazon!

Sara Gale y Los Miembros de Río Abajo

Photo of the Week: Lighting Up Rural Peru


In partnership with PowerMundo, we are working to light up homes throughout Peru with “cleantech” solar products that provide rural families with safe, clean, and inexpensive energy. (Photo: PowerMundo 2012)

Learn more about our work with PowerMundo at our website!

TWP and AHDESA Inaugurate the Renewable Energy Training and Demonstration Center

honduras renewable energy training and demonstration center
Ignacio Osorto (center), Director of AHDESA, and TWP International Director Sebastian Africano (right), cut the ribbon on the new Renewable Energy Training and Demonstration Center in Honduras.

On August 17th, TWP and our partner organization, Asociación Hondureña para el Desarrollo (AHDESA), inaugurated the Renewable Energy Training and Demonstration Center in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The Center has been developed as part of our work with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas’ (ECPA) Improving Access to Clean Energy in Latin America initiative. Since November 2011, TWP and AHDESA have been working as “Implementing Partners” with the ECPA to promote clean energy, low carbon development, and climate-resilient growth in Central America.

The new Renewable Energy Training & Demonstration Center is powered by a 2kW solar PV system and wind energy. In addition, AHDESA has all of the clean cookstove models that they produce on display as well as an array of Cleantech products that they sell to communities who lack access to the energy grid.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the event!

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Notes from the Field: Peace Corps Collaboration Brings Hundreds More Cookstoves to El Salvador

by Elliot Cooper, International Program Coordinator

gathering firewood_ElSalvador
In developing countries like El Salvador, where many people lack access to basic energy infrastructure, women must spend hours each week collecting fuelwood to cook their family meals. (Photo by Sebastian Africano)

For being slightly smaller than Massachusetts, El Salvador has a myriad of different cultures, socioeconomic realities, and geographic features. We’re now on our last day in this wonderful country, having spent three very long work days out in the field, observing, facilitating, questioning, smiling, and laughing.

We headed out early on our 1st field day, leaving San Salvador with our in-country counterparts Arboles y Agua para el Puelo (AAP) a bit before 7:30am. We drove east along the main artery of El Salvador until we hit San Miguel, and then turned north for an hour before running into San Francisco Gotera. From here, we took our vehicle out of two wheel drive and went into 4×4 mode as we headed up into the hills to meet with our first Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV), Andrew Niiro, who is facilitating the building of Justa clean coookstoves in his community of Gualindo Arriba located high in the hills above Gotera.

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Elliot Cooper (left) presents Andrew Niiro with his Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) tiles for the clean cookstoves he has built in his community in El Salvador.

Andres, as everyone calls him, has built more than 20 clean cookstoves, as part of the Peace Corps and TWP’s work with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA) “Improving Access to Clean Energy in Latin America” initiative.  After we met Andres’ community counterpart Rosa Gonzalez, we had a quick meeting to introduce parties and move through the formal motions of Latin American culture.  We presented Rosa and Andres with their official ECPA tiles (a 15×15 cm tile shown in the photo below) that they will adhere to every Justa stove built within the project.

This first year, AAP has been charged with building 300 stoves, as with the next two years, making 900 in total. With our fiscal year ending on September 30th, AAP has entered more than 10 communities and constructed more than 275 Justa clean cookstoves, which will offset more than 1,650 tons of carbon emissions during their lifetimes. This number is impressive, but even more so when you think about the reality of AAP’s monetary limitations, the harsh roads of the country, and the amount of time that goes into training local stove builders, teaching stove beneficiaries how to correctly use their cookstoves, and monitoring activities down the line that will ensure successful use and maintenance of the cookstoves.

peace corps clean cookstoves_el salvadorWe had a great time- albeit sweating profusely- out in the Eastern region of El Salvador, visiting another community hosting a PCV invested in the Justa cookstove project, and then hit the road for our four hour journey back to San Salvador. Over the next two days, we headed north towards the Honduran border, meeting up with yet another PCV implementing a project of more than 40 clean cookstoves, and then to the West to see some reforestation and dry composting latrine projects.

community tree planting_el salvador
A community reforestation event in El Salvador brought all ages out to help plant seedlings in the local area. (Photo by Sebastian Africano)

Today, we will help inaugurate the new Renewable Energy Training & Demonstration Center in Tegucigalpa at 10am MST. Stay tuned for updates!

Photo of the Week: Solar Energy in Rural Peru

Ichocha Peru solar
Powermundo, our partners on the ground in Peru, provide solar lighting to families living in rural areas. Together, we are working with Powermundo and the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas to improve access to clean energy in Latin America. (Photo Credit: Powermundo 2012)

Learn more about our work with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas here.

“Forests Forever” Newsletter Now Available!

Please feel free to download and share our newest edition of “Forests Forever”, Trees, Water & People’s bi-annual newsletter. This edition has lots of great updates on our programs and inspiring stories from the field. We hope you enjoy! To learn more about TWP please visit

Photo of the Week: Honduran Clean Cookstove Factory Goes Solar

solar electricity Honduras
TWP's clean cookstove factory in Honduras, managed by our partner organization AHDESA, had a 2 kW solar electric system installed this week. As part of our work with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), we are working to improve access to clean energy in Latin America. This is just the beginning...stay tuned!


Notes from the Field: Closing the Energy Poverty Gap in Latin America

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

This is the seventh year that I have had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful country of Nicaragua, a country that continues to inspire and amaze me with every visit.  The capital Managua, compared to years past, is booming – commerce is active, people are jovial, and the streets are lively.  The country enjoyed a growth rate of almost 5% last year, a level not seen for over 10 years, and it is visibly evident.  Add to that a level of safety more akin to its model southern neighbor Costa Rica, than its more similar northern neighbor Honduras (Nicaragua has 15% the homicide rate of Honduras), and you have a unique and promising set of conditions in a region characterized by high levels of poverty and violence and low indices of human development.

Nonetheless, there is still much work to be done in Nicaragua.  Much of the rural population is remote, and lives on the margins of society, with many communities at a full day’s distance or more from Managua’s bustling markets and commerce.  Somewhere around 1/3 of Nicaragua’s people are not connected to grid electricity, a condition which keeps them even further from developing full, productive livelihoods.  It gives me great pleasure to be able to say that Trees, Water & People (TWP) is working to close this gap in my seventh year of collaboration with the people of Nicaragua.

TWP and partners will provide families with solar lighting products that are sustainable, easy-to-use, and affordable.

This year marks the operational launch of TWP’s energy access initiative, a collaborative effort between TWP, our local partners AHDESA in Honduras, PROLEÑA in Nicaragua, and Árboles y Agua para El Pueblo in El Salvador, with support from PowerMundo of Colorado and Peru.  Together, we were awarded a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas, which will allow us to join the effort of bringing clean energy technologies to rural markets throughout Latin America.  By tapping into the vast networks that TWP has developed over 14-years providing energy-saving clean cookstoves to Central America, we are partnering with Power Mundo to also provide solar lighting, solar mobile phone charging, and other life-changing products and services to off-grid rural communities.

As we track the impact of our work, we expect to see rural livelihoods strengthened, levels of education rise, and rural communities become more integrated into the modern lives we in the west enjoy and often take for granted.  Follow our progress on this blog, as well as on the TWP and Power Mundo websites, as the project develops over the next three years.  Thank you for supporting Trees, Water & People, and for allowing us to put your donations to work for the people at the base of the global economy who hold so much promise.

What is “Energy Poverty”?

Energy Poverty can be defined as the lack of adequate modern energy for the basic needs of cooking, warmth and lighting, and essential energy services for schools, health centers and income generation (Practical Action, 2012).

According to PowerMundo, “Over three billion people worldwide do not have access to appropriate technology to meet their basic needs for simple activities such as cooking meals, lighting homes, or purifying water. As a result, billions of people suffer from energy poverty, preventable illnesses, and deplorable living conditions.”

Bringing Renewable Energy to Rural Central America

by Megan Maiolo-Heath, Communications Coordinator

solar lamps
The first shipment of "cleantech" solar products arrive at the Asociación Hondureña para el Desarrollo (AHDESA) office, ready to light the homes of families in Honduras.

According to an October 2010 Wireless Intelligence report, Latin America is now the second largest wireless consuming region with more than 530 million users representing over 11% of the global market. There was also exponential growth noted in the Caribbean region. With prices of phones ranging from USD$30 – USD$100 or more, it is evident that even impoverished people with limited resources will find a way to invest in products they consider important to their lives. This market penetration of cell phones may well serve as a model for selling other high-benefit technological products, but it also provides a significant incentive for the successful introduction and adoption of solar technology, in that all these cell phones need to be frequently and consistently recharged. For the many rural people living off-grid, this is often a considerable problem requiring frequent resolution with associated financial and time costs.

FireFly 12 Mobile_solar lighting
The Fire Fly is a solar lamp with a mobile charging station included.

At Trees, Water & People, we are working to address this issue by providing innovative new products such as solar lanterns with phone charging capability, making it possible to fulfill the increasing need for phone chargers, while at the same time introducing solar technology that provides additional economic and educational benefits, such as allowing families to work or study at night. These gateway renewable energy technologies are opening up great possibilities for lower carbon growth and development while improving access to modern energy products, services, and business opportunities to those currently without regular access.

Our new project will utilize our community development experience and new partnership with experts PowerMundo to provide a variety of inexpensive, high impact “Cleantech” products (i.e. items that improve household productivity and efficiency while reducing energy consumption, cost, waste, and pollution.) These will include items such as solar lanterns, solar cell phone chargers, solar panels, and human powered radios.

As Carl Pope recently wrote in Yale Environment 360, “More than a billion people worldwide lack access to electricity. The best way to bring it to them — while reducing greenhouse gas emissions — is to launch a global initiative to provide solar panels and other forms of distributed renewable power to poor villages and neighborhoods.”

We are proud to be a part of this global initiative, helping to bring impoverished families in Central America access to one of the most basic resources: energy.