Ecostove project reduces indoor air pollution
Members of the Rotary Club of Madison, Alabama, USA, help residents of Jayacayan, Honduras, build ecostoves during a recent service project. The stoves burn less wood and vent smoke outside. Photo courtesy Craig Brennan/Madison Rotary club
Residents of a rural community in Honduras have Rotarians to thank for more efficient stoves that burn less wood and reduce their exposure to indoor air pollution.
The Rotary Club of Madison, Alabama, USA, helped install ecostoves in all 47 homes in Jayacayan, Honduras, earlier this year as part of an ongoing service project. The club got the idea after taking part in a larger service project with other Rotarians in Honduras last year.
The ecostoves vent smoke outside the home, unlike the mud stoves the villagers were using before. Use of those stoves increased the villagers' exposure to indoor air pollution, up to 20 times the acceptable limits, according to the World Health Organization.
The new stoves also use 80 percent less firewood, because the heat is concentrated in a specially designed firebox.
Steve Baum, a Rotarian who helped organize the project, said one woman told him she only needs scraps of wood and woodchips to cook.
"We were so rewarded," Baum said. "It made such a difference in these people's lives."
Club members decided to take on the project when they went to Honduras in 2007 on a service project with a larger group of Rotarians from the Southern United States.
They researched several designs before settling on this one, in part because all the materials could be purchased in Honduras, helping the local economy. A contact in Honduras worked with people in the community to sell them on the idea for this stove design before the Rotarians started a pilot program. The Rotary Club of Choluteca also helped coordinate between Rotarians and community members.
Early in 2008, several local residents were trained in stove construction. The Madison club paid for the more expensive items for the stoves such as the steel plancha , or cooking surface, which cost US$60 per stove, while community members provided sand, cement, mud blocks, and other materials used to install the stoves.
"That was very important," Baum says. "They had taken ownership of these stoves. It wasn't somebody giving them something … they contributed to [it] themselves, and they got to see the benefit of it."
The club has set up pilot projects in two more communities in the area in hopes of continuing the project there next year.