An initiative aimed at conserving Mount Kenya forests has launched a drive to promote the use of environmentally friendly cooking technologies among residents of Embu County.
Livelihoods, a carbon finance scheme that funds projects which seek to reduce global warming, has partnered with Climate Pal Limited to distribute clean, energy-saving and low-cost cook stoves dubbed hifadhi to 60,000 households in Embu.
“These stoves are set to replace rampant use of three-stone open fires that consume a lot of wood and emit toxic fumes like carbon dioxide which pollute the environment and pose health risks,” said Climate Pal quality control manager Mercy Keraro at the ongoing United Nations Global Alliance for Clean Cook stoves conference in Nairobi last week.
She said that the stoves have special clay liners that retain heat for long and double ventilation chambers to ensure the wood burns properly and with less smoke.
Studies conducted by Climate Pal and Livelihoods found that the hifadhi cook stoves reduced the amount of firewood previously used in the community by more than 50 per cent.
As such, Ms Keraro noted, it immensely contributes towards the conservation of forests.
“These trees act as sinks that absorb carbon dioxide gas and prevent it from escaping into the atmosphere and causing climate change,” she says.
Ms Keraro added that since wood in the cook stove burns with less smoke, it reduces indoor air pollution — responsible for more than 15 thousand deaths each year in Kenya, mainly through lung infections like cancer.
The Hifadhi project — launched in 2012 — has already distributed the cook stoves to 20,000 households in the region. It aims to reach the remaining 40,000 by April.
“We are targeting more than 90 per cent of the population in Embu so as to achieve the intended impact,” said Ms Keraro.
She said that the cook stoves are being sold at a subsidised price of Sh200 to county residents.
“We are also giving each buyer 40 tree seedlings for planting so as to replace those previously cut,” said Ms Keraro.
She added that the use of inefficient stoves not only poses health risks to users, but also adversely affects livelihoods of women and children.