Alliance for International Reforestation
:: AIR’s Main Activities: Stoves
BUILDING FUEL-EFFICIENT STOVES
Approximately 75 percent of the Guatemalan population uses wood as fuel for cooking and heating. The traditional open fires used for cooking activities are inefficient in that they waste a great deal of calorific energy and require a large quantity of wood. In addition to contributing to the daily destruction of local forests, the fires constantly emit noxious smoke within the houses, causing severe health effects for the families.
Since 1995 until the present, AIR technicians and the community members (plus volunteers in the summer months) have constructed over 750 fuel efficient stoves, conserving close to 750 tons of wood a year! These stoves are far more efficient than open fires, so children do not have to spend days hunting for scarce firewood. They also are built with chimneys that greatly reduce the smoke inside the homes, bringing health benefits. As a side benefit, the stoves provide an immediate incentive for farmers to participate in the patient work of training and reforestation.
We are sometimes asked why we do not promote solar ovens, which do not require any firewood. The answer is based on the concept of “appropriate technology.” That is, the majority of residents of Latin America, and the Mayan people in particular, have cooked with fire for millennia—it is familiar, the food tastes a certain way, and sitting around the warm stove is a part of family life. The stoves efficiently respect these traditions. Furthermore, the stoves are constructed from materials that are available throughout most of Latin America: bricks, cement, chimney stacks, cast iron and concrete blocks, so AIR contributes to the local economy.
In 2009, AIRES in Guatemala received a grant from the United Nations, Division for Social Policy and Development (UN, DESA) to construct 80 stoves in Sololá. In 2004, AIRES received a grant from “Self-Development of People” program of the Presbyterian Church USA to construct over 100 stoves in El Rincón. Various other Presbyterian churches and organizations have donated the materials for stove construction, and we then provide the communities with the technical assistance. Each stove costs approximately $150 to build. See a PowerPoint presentation of photos from the link below <Más evidencias - en español>.