Less Deforestation of the Rainforest due to Efficient Cook Stoves

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    Thanks to the project, women carrying headloads of forest wood are rarer than prior to the project.

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    Since the start of the project in 2010, 90% of all households living within 5 kilometres from the rainforest are now using an efficient cook stove. Photographer: Robert Hörnig.

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    Susan Muyanzi is happy with the cook stove because she makes only 1-2 trips to the forest per week. That means more time for her kids – and less deforestation!

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    Blue Monkey: One of seven species of primates found in Kakamega forest that is threatened with extinction as the forest becomes smaller.

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    Levy Barnoya is a certified installer and member of the Watokambali Installer Group. Thanks to the project, he's got a regular income. He can send his daughters to school, build a permanent house and invest in health care. Photographer: Robert Hörnig

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    Because women now spend less time collecting firewood, they have time to engage in additional income projects such as beekeeping… Photographer: Robert Hörnig

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    …or health products. Such additional incomes foster independence, increase resilience, and develop long term perspectives. Photographer: Robert Hörnig

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    The new efficient Upesi stove burns the firewood more cleanly, resulting in less air pollution.

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    Local materials, such as clay, are used to produce these efficient stoves. The area where clay is extracted gets reforested or rehabilitated and monitored afterwards.

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    The clay and sand are mixed with water then molded by hand using simple metal molds to maintain consistency and quality control in liner production.

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    Mary Modani, mother of four kids, presides over a local pottery group. She is holding a finished but not yet dried liner.

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    The soft clay liners are then baked in kilns for 8-10 hours. The Eco2Librium team monitors the quality and purchases the liners from potters like Mary Modani. The finished liner is then disseminated and installed permanently in households.

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    Jane Enos from Bukhaywa village purchased an efficient cook stove and is happy to see that Jeremiah Brany from Eco2librium is finalizing the formalities.

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    Deforestation also means loss of biodiversity. Photographer: Robert Hörnig

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    Black and White Colobus Monkey: Another primate species of Kakamega forest that is threatened by habitat degradation due to forest destruction.

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    Traditionally, women cooked with wood in open and very inefficient three stone fireplaces. Cooking this way results in burning twice the amount of firewood and exposure to air full of smoke and soot.

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    The Eco2Librium project team, from right: Dr. Anton Espira, (Chief Operations Officer), Christopher Amutabi (General Manager); Silvia Mwangi (Accounting), Caleb Makalasia (Assistant Monitoring Coordinator) , John Luseno (Senior Manager), Telvin Chelimo (intern), Emily Mujinji (Community Women’s Liaison), Jeremiah Brany (Operations Supervisor).

Locally produced efficient Upesi stoves reduce wood consumption in Kenya and help to preserve the unique vegetation and biodiversity of Kakamega rainforest. The stoves have a cleaner burning process and thus decrease indoor air pollution and associated acute respiratory infections in women and children. Moreover, savings in burning unsustainably harvested fuel wood cut down CO2 emissions.

46,000 efficient cook stoves installed
efficient cook stoves installed
10 stove production groups established
stove production groups established
940 ha of rainforest saved
ha of rainforest saved

Tens of thousands of efficient cook stoves were installed in rural households in communities adjacent to Kakamega Forest in Western Kenya since the start of the project. Kakamega rainforest is Kenya’s last remnant lowland indigenous forest and is home to an immense variety of unique and threatened animals and plants. The northern part is a protected area belonging to the Kakamega National Reserve. Despite having a protected status, Kakamega forest is severely damaged and degraded due to the pressure on its resources. The surrounding area is one of the densest populated rural regions of the world (> 500 inhabitant/km2) and 90 percent of the people depend on forest resources for fuel wood and livelihood. The Kakamega Forest has lost almost 50 percent of its area since it was formally gazetted in 1933. 

I am happy. Before I had the cook stove, I had to go to the forest every day, which is a 15-20km walk with all the heavy wood on my head. Now I only have to go to the forest twice a week.
Susan Muyanzi, 33 years, 2 children, Lusero, Kakamega, Kenya

Households in the project area used to cook on a traditional three-stone fireplace and women and also girls spent an average of 15 hours per week collecting fuel wood from Kakamega forest for home use. Poverty rate around Kakamega Forest is above 60 percent and unemployment above 25 percent. This called for a simple, affordable and locally produced efficient stove technology to reduce wood consumption and preserve unique vegetation and biodiversity of Kakamega Forest. The project therefore identified the efficient Upesi cook stove as an appropriate technology for this region. Nowadays, 90 per cent of all households in 3-5 kilometres distance to the rainforest have an efficient cook stove – a great success!

The Upesi stove is a natural ceramic stove and is 35-50 percent more efficient than the three-stone stove. It is manufactured and marketed at a subsidized price by local potter groups. The efficient stove is not a portable stove, but is being fix installed in households. This is more convenient for cooking since traditional dishes such as Ugali (made from maize flour) need to be stirred during preparation process. 

As an old woman, I am happy that my daughters and their daughters will not have to endure the smoky hot 3-stone fires that I have lived with all my life.
Mama Fridah, Kakamega, Kenya

The project creates local jobs, women and girls are not any longer exposed to the smoky open fires and have to spend less time on collecting firewood. A lot of women use this time for an income such as beekeeping or chamomile products. Such small business opportunities which generate a regular income are essential for the people in rural Kenya to get independent – which is very important to be able to develop long-term perspectives.

The project is developed and implemented by the US-Kenyan organisation Eco2librium. 2018, Eco2librium was being honored again as Best for the World among Global B Corporations and also being called Changemakers – those companies in the world taking the lead.

More foto albums on myclimate-Facebook (first and second one)!


  • 264,000 people benefit  from better air and from having to spend less time for collecting firewood.
  • 46,000 efficient cook stoves have been installed.
  • 10 stove production groups have been established.
  • 495 people (75% women) receive an income earning almost 3 times more than what they made prior to the project.
  • 95% of beneficiaries say that indoor air quality has improved.
  • Each stove avoids about 3.7 t CO2 and 2.1 tons wood per year.
  • The project saved so far over 328,000 tonnes of firewood equaling 940 ha of rainforest.
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