Promoting clean cookstoves in the Gumara-Maksegnit Watershed

Women building mirt stoves in Gumara-Maksegnit

An estimated 98 percent of the population in Ethiopia uses solid fuels for cooking, with 85 percent using wood and 7.4 percent using dung. Like many countries around the world, Ethiopian women carry most of the burden of collecting firewood and gathering and drying cow dung for fuel.

In the Gumara-Maksegnit watershed, depending on the size of their families, women on average walk about five hours twice a week or more to collect firewood. This means women have less time for farming, growing vegetables, and other productive activities. Additionally, women are responsible for cooking meals over open flames or on smoky cook stoves, exposing them daily to hours of harmful smoke inhalation.

The Gumara-Maksegnit Watershed Project is promoting the fuel-efficient “mirt stove” (“best stove”), a closed combustion stove developed and tested by the Ethiopian Ministry of Water and Energy. The stoves have a fuel efficiency of about 23-24% and could halve households’ demand for firewood. Because the stoves emit less smoke than traditional cook stoves, women and children will be less affected by lung diseases. Various governmental and non-governmental institutions are promoting these fuel-efficient stoves nationally and they have been well received by local communities. “Stove-for-work” programs will encourage communities to join in natural resource management activities.

The fuel-efficient stoves can be made with locally available cement, sand, and water. They are relatively cheap to produce at 150 ETB (about 8 USD). The project will offer women, especially landless women, opportunities to generate income from building the stoves. Partners have already been identified and training women to build the stoves will begin soon.

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