April 4th, 2011: La Cuchilla, Department of Chalatenango, El Salvador
After a hot and bumpy 2.5 hour drive we reached the community of La Cuchilla (the blade), which refers to the steep mountain ridge it sits on. We’ve come to visit Alicia, a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) whose been living there for over a year and half. Alicia is a prime example of what a PCV’s contribution to community can be as she tells us about the many environmental projects, women’s economic activities, and Justa cookstoves she’s built in La Cuchilla.
The El Salvador TWP team (Arboles y Agua para El Pueblo), Alicia and one other PCV from a nearby community, helped train a father and son team as the community stove builders. Arboles supplied the griddles and combustion chambers and supervised the stove building, while Alicia raised additional money through the Partnership Fund, asking friends and families to donate to the project. Alicia was able to raise $2,000 and coordinated with the Mayor of La Laguna to provide transport for the cookstove building materials. The La Cuchilla community is made up of 80 families, 65 of them now cook daily on improved Justa cookstoves – an impressive accomplishment, especially after traveling the long and winding road up to this rural mountain community.
Alicia goes back to the US in August of this year. She says that the other families don’t want to be left stoveless and are urging her to help them as they organize amongst themselves to collect materials little by little. Alicia says that building these 65 Justa cookstoves wasn’t an easy task, so building another 15 clean cookstoves should be a little easier although she awaits a challenge.
The Facts and Background:
Currently, El Salvador is the second most deforested country in Latin America (after Haiti). Today, most deforestation in El Salvador results from the country’s high population that relies heavily on the collection of fuelwood for meeting cooking needs. Aside from the horrible environmental degradation that occurs from cooking over open fires, there are also major health issues surrounding this practice. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 2 million people, mostly women and children, die each year from indoor air pollution. A simple, appropriate technology such as a fuel-efficient cookstove will reduce each families fuelwood consumption by up to 70% while, at the same time, reducing indoor air pollution by up to 80%; a sustainable solution that is good for both people and the planet.
Click here to learn more about TWP’s Fuel-Efficient Cookstove Program.