Cleaner cooking in Goro Gutu, thanks to Ethiopian Red Cross and Netherlands partners24/04/2013 - by Louisa Whitlock in Genda Yusuf village
In the village of Genda Yusuf in the Goro Gutu region of eastern Ethiopia, women are demonstrating a new kind of eco-stove.
Made from cement, it cooks injera, the Ethiopian staple, and boils water at the same time, burning only a fraction of the fuel that a traditional stove would – and producing hardly any smoke.
Says one woman: “The smoke from the old stoves used to hurt our eyes and make our children sick. Now there’s no effect on our health.”
These women would have once spent hours collecting firewood, walking several kilometres to find areas where trees had not already been cut down.
The lush greenery surrounding Genda Yusuf testifies to the success of the fuel-saving stoves, which can burn crop residue so there is even less need for firewood.
With a small amount of capital, Genda Yusuf women bought a mould and the raw materials to make the stoves.
They have sold over 1,000 in surrounding villages – valuable livelihoods support – and demand is rising healthily.
The Women’s Fuel-Saving Stoves Production Centre is a project of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) and the Netherlands Partners for Resilience (PfR) – CARE, Cordaid, the Netherlands Red Cross, the Climate Centre and Wetlands International.
The PfR work to reduce the vulnerability to climate-related hazards of some of the poorest communities in nine countries worldwide.
In Ethiopia, PfR operates in both agricultural and pastoralist areas, where the most common hazards include drought and flooding (photogallery).
A mid-term review was conducted earlier this month, and PfR staff visited project communities and conducted workshops on successes and lessons learned to date.
In Goro Gutu, the increasing unpredictability of rainy seasons has pushed already chronically food-insecure households dangerously close to the edge; but through a range of interventions, the resilience of project communities is gradually increasing.
With the support of PfR, communities are building terraces, gabion (caged-stone) check dams and “micro-basins”, and planting trees to stabilise nearby hillsides, reducing the risk of erosion and floods.
Water sources have been protected and schoolchildren are learning about the causes of land degradation, and how to respond to the challenges of climate change and extreme weather.
One local school boasts solar panels for power on its roof, while early-warning committees coordinate closely with the authorities about the consequences of delayed rains.
The Ethiopian Red Cross has helped arrange drought-resistant and early-maturing crops varieties for communities worst affected.
Future PfR plans include documentation of best practices so that successes can be replicated more easily, and a renewed focus on the early action communities can take when they get a forecast of poor rains.
(Additional reporting from Ethiopia by Fleur Monasso)
Only a few whisps of smoke rising from a newly built eco-stove – an element of the Netherlands PfR programme in Ethiopia’s Goro Gutu region. It cooks and boils water at the same time, burning only a fraction of a fuel of traditional stoves and sparing women long treks to collect firewood. (Photo: Karen Stehouwer/Cordaid)