Protecting native forests and improving livelihoods with sustainable cooking technology

By distributing fuel efficient cookstoves to Maasai communities living south of Kenya's Lake Naivasha, this project improves livelihoods and reduces emissions plus the risk of smoke-related health problems. It also alleviates pressure on the nearby Mau Forest, where many indigenous people collect their firewood.

The context

The Maasai people inhabit an area spanning much of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. Despite pressure from governments to abandon their traditional seminomadic lifestyle, the Maasai people have maintained age-old customs that preserve their unique culture. Yet, the traditional Maasai method of cooking over an open wood fire is time consuming, encourages deforestation and produces significant amounts of indoor smoke – exposing women and children to severe respiratory health hazards.

The project

This project has distributed over 5,500 efficient cookstoves to-date, to replace open fires. The cookstoves reflect traditional woodfire methods, but require 66% less firewood and reduce smoke emissions considerably, improving overall community health. By reducing emissions and slowing deforestation, the project reduces approximately 14,500 tonnes of CO 2 emissions every year.

The benefits

By using the cookstoves, the Maasai people reduce the amount of smoke produced by indoor cooking, limiting their exposure to dangerous pollutants that cause respiratory diseases. Women and children also spend less time collecting firewood, and instead focus on earning an income or attending school, respectively. Meanwhile, demand for firewood is alleviated from the Mau Forest – the largest native montane forest in East Africa.

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