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How fuel-saving stoves save wood, time and health

Since 2012, Farm Africa and SOS Sahel Ethiopia have supported a REDD+ mechanism in the Bale Eco-region in the Oromia region of Ethiopia that lowers greenhouse gas emissions by reducing deforestation, while also boosting the livelihoods of local communities living in poverty.  

In Bale, responsibility for feeding the family falls on women and girls. Most meals are cooked on open fires. Food preparation and firewood collection dominate women’s time. To reduce pressure on both women and the forest, Farm Africa and partners distributed a total of 5,961 fuel-efficient stoves. 

Mother of two Etagegegnehu Mulushewa from Goba town in Bale, Ethiopia bears the responsibility of providing for six family members. To make ends meet, she engages in petty trades such as baking and selling the traditional Ethiopian bread injera and fried potatoes, and rearing sheep. Her day starts at 5am with baking injera for her family and customers including restaurants in the town.  

Although there is electricity supply in Goba town, the price is unaffordable for her. Thus, for years, she had no choice but to use a traditional open smoky stove. In addition to its inefficiency, wasting time, energy and firewood, the stove used to risk Etagegnehu’s health by exposing her to smoke. 

To her relief, Etagegnhu received an improved fuel-saving stove from a nature club supported by Farm Africa and SOS Sahel Ethiopia’s REDD+ project.  

Etagegnehu compared the two stoves: 

“The new stove has multiple benefits. For instance, with the traditional open smoky stove, I had to use more than two quintals [200kg] of firewood to bake 800 injera. But now, with the fuel-saving one, I only need one quintal of firewood for the same amount.”  

Witnessing the difference in energy used between the two stoves and being concerned about the environmental impact on the forest of traditional stoves, which use so much more firewood, Etagengehu now uses every opportunity to promote the use of energy-saving stoves.  

She tells others about the advantages of fuel-saving stoves whenever she can. 

I like the fuel-saving stove a lot, it doesn’t expose me to excessive heat like the open stove. This one keeps me clean and allows me to do more cooking chores at the same time

Etagegnehu is encouraged by the take-up of fuel saving stoves in her neighbourhood. She believes 99 percent of residents are now using the stoves. She plans to upgrade to the more advanced model of fuel-saving stove with a chimney when she can afford it. 

This story is one of five personal stories featured in our new report Making forests sustainable: lessons learnt from the Bale Eco-region REDD+ Phase II project, Ethiopia. (PDF file, 4MB)

Farm Africa implemented the REDD+ project in the Bale Eco-region with partner SOS Sahel Ethiopia with funding from the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Ethiopia.