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Ethiopia: the difference a stove can make

Traditionally people coped with economic shocks and the loss of income by supplementing their income by selling livestock, firewood and charcoal. This has become unsustainable. As a result Save the Children UK has developed a programme to create alternative income-generating activities and to promote the use of energy efficient stoves by providing training on how to make them.

Azmera, a 28-year-old woman living in small village called Robit, talked to me about how a wood burning stove has enormously improved her livelihood and alleviated many of the problems she and her children endured while using traditional stoves.  She started using an energy-efficient stove in 2009 after attending a training program organized by Save the Children UK in collaboration with the Woreda energy and mines office.

“When I used a traditional stove the amount of firewood it required was so much that I had to travel quite a long distance to collect a load of firewood from far away bushes and shrubs and this would only last for two days”, Azmera said. “Then, on the third day I had to once again walk a long distance to collect fire wood which is getting increasingly harder to find. Now, I collect firewood only once a week. With a small bundle of twigs I can hold in my hand I can cook as much as I used to using a load of firewood with the traditional stove.”

“Before, my daughter had to help collect firewood every weekend and after school time. This impacted on her studies and her performance in school was much lower. Now, all this has changed and she has more time to do her homework and concentrate on her studies.”

These women can use that time gained to take care of their small children.  The other benefit with the energy-efficient stoves is that families don’t suffer from the incessant eye diseases caused by the smoke that the traditional stoves emit. The modern energy-efficient stoves are smoke free with a vent to let out the little smoke that is being created while cooking.

The introduction of energy-efficient stoves into the community not only helps women but helps maintain natural forest, which has a direct link to the agricultural output and overall food security situation in the area.

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