Building the Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy & Climate

Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy & Climate

Climate change affects us all. Around the world, communities are already suffering from its drastic local impacts, such as increased natural disasters, destructive weather patterns, and reduced crop yields. It’s time to take action.

Trees, Water & People is working with our long-time partner in Nicaragua, Proleña, to establish the Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy, & Climate near La Paz Centro, about an hour northwest of Managua.

Nicaragua 067
Proleña and TWP are working together to develop the Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy & Climate.

Working with our dedicated partner organization Proleña, we have already grown more than 3.7 million trees in Nicaragua. The new Center will not only grow and plant more seedlings, we will also provide hands-on demonstration plots to show how local people can integrate growing trees and growing food crops together in the new era of a changing climate.

We will also use the Center to continue to build and distribute our clean cookstoves to reduce firewood use and deforestation. To date, we have built and distributed more than 64,000 fuel-efficient stoves that also eliminate the toxic smoke that causes millions of women and children to get sick or die every year.

The new Center is ultimately about resilience – learning how to survive and even thrive despite a harsh new climate reality. To do that, we must provide a place where educators and students come to teach, work, and learn about the real impacts of climate change, what can be done about them, and how we can and will adapt.

2015 Nicaraguan Center for Forests, Energy & Climate timeline

For questions about the new Center please contact Sebastian Africano, International Director, at

ETHOS Conference Brings Clean Cookstove Sector Together in Seattle

A throwback to 2005 when I first started working with Trees, Water & People's Clean Cookstove Program as an intern.
A throwback to 2005 when I first started working with Trees, Water & People’s Clean Cookstove Program as an intern.

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

Almost 13 years ago, a fringe group of scientists, development practitioners, and academics came together to coordinate a response to an epidemic that claims over 4 million lives a year. That epidemic stems from the health problems caused by dirty indoor air – largely a result of cooking inside with solid fuels like firewood, charcoal, and dung.

The group that emerged from these meetings was named Engineers in Technical Humanitarian Opportunities of Service, or ETHOS, and has since helped catalyze a global movement based on the simple notion that cooking shouldn’t kill. I attended the third ETHOS conference held in Kirkland, WA in 2005, and I have just returned from the 13th, marking ten years since I entered the clean cookstove sector.

Trees, Water & People (TWP) and our partner’s understanding of how to design cookstoves appropriately, how to test them, how to increase adoption, and how to improve their durability has increased exponentially in the past ten years. Where there were only a handful of scattered groups dedicated to moving this work forward, there is now a Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, pushing to deploy 100 million cookstoves worldwide by the year 2020, with endorsements from public figures such as Hillary Clinton, Julia Roberts and Chef José Andrés.

Playing with fire (testing cookstoves) at ETHOS 2015.
Playing with fire (testing cookstoves) at ETHOS 2015.

While some groups focus on mass fabrication of cookstoves for export, other organizations like TWP focus on designing locally appropriate solutions using local materials, and creating jobs in the process. Advances in monitoring and evaluation and testing have taught us to gather evidence from the field, demonstrating how these technologies truly reduce firewood consumption, exposure to pollutants, and carbon emissions in the atmosphere, slowing the acceleration of climate change. With three billion people still depending on solid fuels for daily cooking needs, all involved are hitting the gas pedal to increase the quality, quantity, and impact of the clean cookstove sector.

In TWP’s case, this work gets done when donors like you support our Clean Cookstove Program with your generous donations. Just as we in the U.S. have a wide array of safe cooking technologies in our kitchens (count them!) for our varied cooking tasks, we believe that families living on the economic margins of society should have the same safe and clean options, even if they continue to use biomass fuels. So thank you for supporting this great work, and for following our progress in tackling the silent killer in the kitchen.

New Study: Household air pollution from cooking kills 4 million people annually

indoor air pollution

According to new global burden of disease estimates published in The Lancet, household air pollution (HAP) from cooking with solid fuels, such as wood, dung, coal, and charcoal, kills 4 million people annually. These findings double the previous known mortality rates of HAP from 2 million (WHO 2009) to 4 million deaths worldwide.

Everyday, approximately 3 billion people around the world depend on solid fuels for cooking meals and heating homes. Cooking over an open fire fills kitchens with smoke that contains dangerous levels of particulates and carbon monoxide. This heavy exposure has been likened to smoking five packs of cigarettes a day. Breathing the toxic smoke from open cooking fires can lead to acute respiratory illness, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Global Burden of Disease 2010 study represents the work of 486 co-authors from 50 countries, an effort led by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Gloabl Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) is a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.

“This shocking doubling of previous estimates of HAP-related mortality necessitates a redoubling of Alliance efforts to ensure that cooking a meal is a life-enriching, and not life-taking, activity for all people,” said Alliance Executive Director Radha Muthiah.

Trees, Water & People (TWP) has worked with GACC as an implementing organization since 2010, when the Alliance was created. In the past 15 years, TWP has built more than 50,000 clean cookstoves throughout Central America and Haiti in an effort to address the environmental, economic, and human health issues caused by open-fire cooking and HAP.

More information about the new global burden of disease study please visit the GACC website.

Notes from the Field: The Zanmi Pye Bwa Cookstove Goes to Market

by Sebastian Africano, International Director

Zanmi Pye Bwa clean cookstove inventoryZanmi Pye Bwa (ZPB) cookstoves have officially entered the marketplace in Port-au-Prince, where they are being made available to consumers at a promotional price to build excitement around this innovative new product. By way of Trees, Water & People’s 2011 partnership with International Lifeline Fund, five retailers have been trained to begin marketing and selling the ZPB cookstove in the capital city.

Cookstove promoter, Angie, gets ready to do a demonstration of the Zanmi Pye Bwa in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Over the last several months, the ZPB stove has been demonstrated around the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area to stimulate demand for this important technology.  Apart from posters, banners, and pamphlets, a radio ad promoting the stove and its benefits has been launched in the capital, and special events are held to generate business for the retail vendors.  These steps are crucial to establishing a sustainable relationship between producers and consumers of the cookstoves over the long-term.

As demand grows, we will continue to raise funds to increase the productive capacity of our teams, and to extend distribution of ZPB products throughout the city.  Feedback from both users of the stoves and partners has been overwhelmingly positive, and encourages us to continue providing quality products and services, raising the bar for fuel efficiency, job creation and income generation in the Haitian cookstove market.

To learn more about the Zanmi Pye Bwa Clean Cookstove Project please visit

Zanmi Pye Bwa cookstoves for sale at a store front in Port-au-Prince

Photo of the Week: The Zanmi Pye Bwa Clean Cookstove

Haiti clean cookstove
A Zanmi Pye Bwa clean cookstove, manufactured in Port-au-Prince, Haiti for the people and environment of Haiti.

Interested in learning more about the Zanmi Pye Bwa Clean Cookstove Project? Click here for more information.

From the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves website: “Igniting Change is designed as a comprehensive vision for the cookstove sector to achieve universal adoption of clean cookstoves and fuels. The strategy charts three critical pillars of activity – enhancing demand, strengthening supply and fostering an enabling environment as key components of a thriving market for clean cookstoves and fuels.  Igniting Change will serve as a blueprint for donors, the private sector, implementers, researchers, the United Nations and policymakers that outlines a combination of policy and actionable programmatic levers to catalyze the sector.”

The Zanmi Pye Bwa Haitian Clean Cookstove Project

The Zanmi Pye Bwa Cookstove Project in Haiti is a joint effort between Trees, Water & People (TWP) and International Lifeline Fund (ILF), two American-based nonprofit organizations. TWP has worked with ILF on developing a local charcoal stove design, intended for micro-entrepreneurial manufacture and dissemination during 2011. This stove, the Zanmi Pye Bwa (“Friend of the Trees”), has posted fuel-use reductions on par with many of the imported stoves in Port-au-Prince (40% reduction in charcoal use), but can be produced at a lower cost with local skills and materials.

Are you interested in contributing to this project? Click here to make a donation to the Zanmi Pye Bwa Clean Cookstove fundraiser.

Cooking shouldn’t kill!

Click here to learn more about how Trees, Water & People (TWP) is addressing environmental and health problems, such as Indoor Air Pollution (IAP), in Central America and Haiti.

Interesting Reading: Biomass Cookstove Technical Report

As part of his work with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC), Sebastian Africano, TWP’s Deputy International Director, helped contribute to this report.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) offices of Policy and International Affairs (PI) and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) held a meeting on January 11–12, 2011, to gather input on a proposed DOE research and development (R&D) program to address the technical barriers to cleaner and more fuel-efficient biomass cookstoves. The nearly 80 participants at the meeting evaluated DOE’s proposed goals, identified the major research challenges, and defined pathways toward technology solutions.