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Ecological stove in use

“Building Ecological Stoves for families living in rural Guatemala .”

Project Co-ordinator: Helen Ilsley and Katy Vatis
Location: Santa Catarina Barahona, Guatemala


  • Ecological stoves will replace open pit fires in the home
  •  These are more efficient, environmentally friendly, healthier for the family and have lower running costs
  • Providing 10 stoves, helping 52 people and their extended families

Description of Project

An open pit fire inside the home is the most common method for cooking in the rural areas of Guatemala. This method of cooking uses substantial amounts of wood, is inefficient and hurts the environment. Moreover, the health of the family suffers because of stagnant smoke, causing respiratory problems and vision problems, as well as burns. (Even white laundry hung nearby or the grannies’ white hair will all be stained yellow because of smoke.) Families that can afford to buy wood, do so. Families that can’t afford firewood will spend hours each week going into the hills and looking for fallen branches to use as wood. (It is illegal to cut down trees so they have to forage what they can find.) The children are often sent, which means they miss school or don’t have time to finish homework. If a mother goes, she is taking time out from weaving, which is likely her only source of income.

Stoves manufactured locally use 60% less wood, which means families save time (looking for wood), money (buying wood), and energy (less wood). The ecological stove uses a chimney, which means the smoke leave the house through the roof. The respiratory health of the family improves and the children’s lungs are able develop normally and vision problems decline. Families may save up to two days of work every week since they don’t have to collect and chop so much firewood, and children have more time to study or even play. Finally, there is a positive impact for the environment since hundreds of trees can be saved every year.

The first replacement chimney is provided to the family after two years to ensure sustainability and further training where necessary. After four years the family normally has a full understanding of the benefits and will save the money for the next chimney and repairs.

This project is done in partnership with New Life Mexico and Small Change 4 Big Change. For more information, visit Small Change 4 Big Change website  or their facebook page.

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