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Igniting change: meet the women behind the stoves
14 July 2023

Igniting change: meet the women behind the stoves

4 min read
Corporate climate action Project stories
Janet Madiangi Writer and director with Reel Pix media Ltd based

Behind each cookstove, distributed by the C-Quest Capital Efficient Cookstoves project, there’s the story of a woman whose life has taken an instant turn for the better.

Visiting the homes of women involved in the project is key to understanding the benefits that the Efficient Cookstoves project brings on an individual level, whilst ensuring that the cooking technologies deployed are appropriate to the local context and the needs of the users.

C-Quest Capital regularly visits community members who have recently been provided with a clean cooking solution to document their personal stories of impact. This is the story of Joyce Muteithia, a cookstove user and mother of four.

“Time is precious: once it passes, that’s it.”

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.

Joyce with her family and C-Quest Capital field officer. Image credits: C-Quest Capital

Joyce with her family and C-Quest Capital field officer. Image credits: C-Quest Capital

Now that Joyce has significantly more time on her hands, she uses her donkeys to collect water for the local primary school, which in exchange covers her children's school fees.

With her leftover time, she takes care of her ageing mother-in-law, and the nieces and nephews under her care. With her eyes on her mother-in-law, she told the team how the cookstove had changed her life for the better: "Time is precious and once it passes that's it. Before we received our efficient 'smart stove' I used to spend about four hours a day searching for firewood. Now that I have more time, I can enjoy my family's company. The stove has brought a lot of joy and happiness to my home."

Joyce additionally spoke of the positive impact the stove has had on her family's health and wellbeing, mentioning: "Even my husband is delighted with the stove because the children can prepare meals without the worry of getting burnt, as the fire is enclosed!" Impressed by this safety feature, Joyce has become an ambassador in her village for the uptake of the efficient cookstoves provided by the project: "as a village woman it is a must-have."

Joyce's story is just one of the hundreds that echo the same message: one clean cookstove can create a ripple effect of positive change, transforming a woman's life. The cookstove benefits not only her own health and wellbeing but also improves the lives of her family and her community.

Image credits: C-Quest Capital


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