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How new cooking stoves are helping Kenya protect its threatened forests


Last Month, WWF led the world in marking the Earth Hour; the world’s biggest environmental event, organized in all continents to create understanding on the issues facing the planet and inspiring people to live more sustainably.

While the world was marking the event, here in at WWF in Kwale, Kenya, we were busy putting this idea into practice – training rural communities to cook with a new type of energy efficient stoves.

Most households in Kenya use traditional cook stoves which are of low efficiency meaning most of energy is lost, hence more firewood are required. This translates to large areas of forests being cleared to meet the demand.

The new technology, known as Jiko Banifu, is more efficient, easy to adopt and costs much less.

The old way of cooking (L) compared to the new stoves being installed (R)The old way of cooking (L) compared to the new stoves being installed (R) © Elias Kimaru / WWF

The stoves help reduce the amount of firewood consumed, reduce deforestation and cut CO2 emissions – so helping tackle climate change.

Our new stoves cost much less than the previous type. A stove for a family of five members will now costs just 15 US dollars compared to 40 dollars with the old model. It also reduces firewood consumption by 50%.

What makes the stoves even more incredible is that they’re constructed by the local community, using locally available materials. This means there’s the potential to quickly replicate this approach in other rural villages.

We’ve trained 18 community members to become local level trainers. In total, 640 local people and 3 primary schools (with total of 650 pupils) have benefitted from this initiative so far. The target is to hit 1500 community members by June 2017.

There’s lots of work still to be done to cover the target communities and schools, we are committed to ensure this is achieved as planned.

Managing the demand for wood fuel

Of course, it’s not just about how the wood is used in homes. We need to make sure that forests don’t suffer because people are taking too much wood for fuel.

Extraction of wood fuel – for use in homes and businesses – has risen in recent years.

There’s a lack of county based regulation which allows illegal extraction to take place. This has left the areas degraded and contributed to poverty.

Forest cleared for charcoal and firewoodForest cleared for charcoal and firewood © Elias Kimaru / WWF

In the nearby Kilifi area, we’ve been working with Kilifi County Natural Resources Network and the county government to improve how forests are managed.

New regulations, currently under development, are a step in the right direction, and should help control woodfuel businesses. But of course more will need to be done to enforce the new rules to help protect the forests, their wildlife, and local communities.

WWF’s work in Kwale-Kilifi landscape is part of WWF’s Coastal Kenya Programme, which is gratefully supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Size of Wales and the UK Government through the Department for International Development.

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