Youth take pressure off forests with unique stoves

Energy efficientAn innovative youth organization in Siaya County is easing the pressure on local forests and taming soil degradation with the installation of unique stoves that uses 50 percent less wood than conventional stoves.

In Siaya County, over 91 percent of the locals use firewood for cooking and this therefore translates into millions of trees being fell down annually to meet this ever increasing demand. The result is that most of the once beautiful natural forests have been depleted and the soil left bare hence easy erosion. In addition the depletion of forests which act as rain catchment have affected the rain patterns with the area receiving uncoordinated rain that is unreliable for their farming activities.
It is this trend that saw the birth of the energy conservation initiative from Tembea Youth Center for Sustainable Development. The initiative is known as "Energy Efficient Cook stoves for Siaya Communities". According to the head of TEMBEA Youth group Jared Buoga, the project aims to achieve an annual production of 7,200 efficient cook stoves over a period of 7 years.
The project is developed as a carbon offset project in partnership with Swiss non-profit foundation Myclimate and is coordinated and implemented by the Kenya Tembea Youth Centre for Sustainable Development. This project is financed through the mechanism of carbon credits and will be certified under the Gold Standard Foundation.
The stoves that Tembea introduced among the families in Siaya are useful to the thousands of the families that depend on firewood for their cooking. Buoga explained that the stoves are easy to construct and reasonably measured to reduce deforestation because they need up to 50 percent less wood compared to the conventional three stone fire place. “The stoves are efficient, fast and offer clean energy. In fact I have more time to attend to my small business rather than fetching for firewood as it was the case before acquiring them,” explained an elated Alice Odero. The stoves are built using locally available material including clay, saw dust and stones. In order to construct one stove, it can take an average of three hours.
The project is proving to be a success to the whole community as it has also created jobs through the ripple down effect. According to Buoga, local artisans are identified in the villages and trained in stove construction and household mobilization and over 100 artisan jobs have been created through the project. The household are charged about Sh2000 for the construction of the stove.
In order to have more people adopting the stoves, the Swiss Foundation Myclimate pays half of the money with the household catering for the remainder which is paid through installments payable at community savings and loaning groups that have been mobilized and formed by TEMBEA. The organization currently supervises approximately 1400 groups with an average of 17 members per group. The innovative village-based savings and loaning groups enhance affordability and access to efficient cook stoves through soft loans; in addition, the training of households in usage and maintenance of the cook stove and campaigns to raise people‘s awareness concerning renewable energies and energy efficiency increase uptake.
Exposure to smoke from the conventional cooking stoves which is the primary means for cooking and heating used by over 3 billion people in the developing world causes over 2 million premature deaths annually with women and children the most affected.
In order to enhance adoption and utilization of efficient cook-stoves, Tembea undertakes education, community sensitization and awareness creation to address health, livelihood and quality of life. “Through regularized usage surveys, qualitative data collected and analyzed help in addressing the socio-cultural concerns of the target beneficiaries,” added 
Currently, over 22000 households in the County posses the new efficient stoves which approximately benefits over 80000 people directly.
The youth group plans to impact on all households in the County after the success and the demand the stoves have received. “Over the course of seven years, we have planned to distribute around 48,500 stoves to local communities in Siaya. This project is expected to reduce an average of 45,154tonnes CO2 per annum and approximately 316,080 tonnes of CO2 equivalent in seven years,” added Buoga.