Joyce Muteithia lives in a small rural settlement off the beaten track in Kitui County, Eastern Kenya, and the journey to her home was a bumpy ride. The four-wheel drive our project partner was travelling in had given up prematurely on the rough, thorny terrain, meaning the last kilometre to the settlement had to be covered on foot. When the team arrived, as if by magic, Joyce appeared calling out "Karibu, Karibu!" (translating to 'Welcome, welcome!'), ushering the team into her brick house and out of the sweltering sun. With a big grin, Joyce brought the team into her kitchen, where her new 'smart stove' had been installed. She sat down and began to cook lunch, a local meal called 'githeri', consisting of boiled beans and maize. Delighted to share her story, Joyce told the team that her cooking time had been cut down by two-thirds thanks to her new stove, with significantly less firewood required for cooking daily meals.
Her previous traditional three-stone fire required so much firewood that it required her to walk an average of 20 kilometres a day in search of fuel. Since transitioning to her clean cookstove, Joyce's life has been completely revolutionised. Countless hours have been saved that would have been spent cooking or on the arduous fuel hunt, giving her the freedom to venture into income-generating activities and spend time with her family.