Alcohol stoves save time & empower women
The Women Fuelwood Gatherers of Addis Ababa are local women who spend hours searching the eucalyptus-clad hillsides for firewood, carrying enormous bundles of wood into Addis to sell.
Living in Addis Ababa, Fetiya used to be one of the thousands of women needing firewood for her own family. With very few options, and unable to afford to buy fuel, Fetiya would go to market after it had closed for the day to try to collect whatever wood scraps were left over. She was struggling to pay her four children’s school fees, as she had no time available to earn money.
In 2006 she received a stove from Gaia’s partner organization, The Good Shepherd Sisters, who provide services and support for low-income families and specific communities at risk.
As a pilot study, the Good Shepherd Sisters provided stoves to families who could otherwise not afford them, and sold the ethanol fuel to them at a reduced price.
I pay 3 Birr (24 cents) for 1.2 liters of ethanol fuel, which is expensive but the fuel is much better and lasts longer than the charcoal and firewood with which I previously cooked.
Kerosene has now become too expensive for many low-income families in Ethiopia.
Switching to an efficient stove and fuel combination gives more time to women who struggle to find fuel, and who cook over smoky stoves.
After she began to use the CleanCook stove, Fetiya and her friend were able to purchase cabbages and other vegetables to sell in her neighborhood.
“Now I can make a bit of money because I have more time. Everyone always asks me about my stove, and they are all interested in purchasing them!”
The benefits of clean fuel for women affected by HIV
At age 16, Senedu fled the Derg regime in Ethiopia and was living in a refugee camp across the border in Djibouti. After 15 years, she married a fellow Ethiopian. Four days after her wedding he told her that he was HIV+.
With help from a Christian charity, Senedu now owns her own condominium in Addis Ababa. She has become a vocal advocate in her community, using her story to educate others about HIV prevention. “I sold my gold earrings and invited my neighbors over for the traditional coffee ceremony. I wanted to educate other women about transmission.”
Due to her reduced immunity to illness, one of Senedu’s biggest health concerns is contracting a respiratory disease. “I can live with HIV, as long as I do not contract bronchitis or a lung infection—those are killing diseases.”
Before receiving the CleanCook, she used a kerosene or charcoal stove. These stoves are incredibly smoky, they cause eye irritation and coughing—often resulting in respiratory infections.
Cooking with alcohol is advantageous for Senedu—it is clean. It causes no smoke. It does not emit dangerous particle matter which settles in her lungs.
Senedu co-founded an association Community Women Against HIV. They collect money amongst themselves, in many cases to purchase food to cook for HIV+ patients in the hospital.
She spends much of her time cooking over the stove, and she smiles when she says, “Now I feel safe in my kitchen.”
For more information, visit the World Health Organization. »