Peace Corps and Trees, Water & People Build Clean Cookstoves in the Village of Rio Abajo, El Salvador

Friday, January 25, 2013

Peace Corps and Trees, Water & People (TWP) are training Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV) to build clean cookstoves. The knowledge shared with local community leaders through this program provides communities with the skills required to build and maintain clean cookstoves. In the small rural village of Rio Abajo, in the municipality of Chalatenango, a total of 41 cookstoves were built in the first phase of the project, thus avoiding approximately 62 tons of carbon emissions per year. An additional 60 cookstoves will be built in 2013.

More than 1.9 million people around the world, mostly women and children, die each year due to cooking with dangerous and inefficient open fires. In Central America alone, more than 80% of families cook their meals with firewood. Without access to electric or gas stoves, people become dependent on open fire cooking, which is at the root of problems such as deforestation, high greenhouse gas emissions, and an array of health ailments caused by indoor air pollution.

To combat these problems, TWP has developed several clean cookstoves designed to use up to 70% less wood than traditional open fires and save an average of 1.5 tons of carbon emissions per year. The technology behind these stoves is simple and very low-maintenance. Stoves are manufactured in-country with the help of local partners. The use of local materials and labor and the adaption of the designs to local cooking customs and traditions make these projects sustainable.

TWP’s clean cookstove projects create jobs, save families money on daily fuel costs, improve human health and the environment, and are designed to be sustainable well into the future. Since 1998, TWP has contributed to building more than 50,000 clean cookstoves.

The educational alliance between Peace Corps and TWP is part of the ECPA Renewable Energy and Climate Change Initiative. These efforts are helping to increase rural access to energy, mitigate the effects of climate change, and support the use of renewable energy and energy efficient technologies in Central and South American communities.