Green Energy Stove Roll-out
Our team takes for granted our home conveniences of clean power, lighting, and cooking. This isn’t so in sub-Saharan African countries. One of our Enactus members introduced us to a silent killer in the villages of his country of Gabon. Gabon is a small Central Western African country on the Atlantic coast. 33% of its population lives on no more than $2 a day. 86% use wood as their primary source of fuel.
Anthony, an alumna and former member of our team who lives in Gabon in Central Africa, wanted to make a difference and change the African story. Moved with compassion, he spoke to our team about the problems people face. He told the story of his mother-in-law, Florence, and the women in the African villages such as Mozilla. Living the life of a village woman in Gabon is a daily struggle of coping with health and financial issues. Waking up every morning, Florence cooked her family’s meals on an open fire. Smoke generated by the fire caused Florence’s family to suffer from eye and respiratory diseases.
Earlier this year in March, we were privileged to be in the country of Gabon because of the generous contributions from donors of our last crowdfunding campaign. While in Gabon we saw the struggles of Florence and other villagers with smoke. Can you imagine living with smoke in your home every day? Studies by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found how smoke induces cataracts and oxidative damage to their eyes. Cooking with fire emits hundreds of harmful substances such as carbon monoxide, and is a major cause of climate change. Recent statistics by the World Health Organization suggests that an estimated 3 billion people make use of open fire for cooking and heating, which in turn results in about 4 million deaths every year. The women and children are the primary victims of premature deaths due to their frequent exposure to the open fire’s toxic indoor pollution.
Surprisingly 75% of Sub-Saharan Africa has no easy access to electricity. Essentials like cell phones are powered using dirty diesel generators often miles away at great expense.
Do you know how much it costs for you to charge this phone for a year? Only 47 cents! For Florence, it costs her $1 per charge and she would have to walk all the way to the charging station. With little access to electricity, the cost to charge an essential cell phone is unbearable for Florence at half of rural Gabon’s daily income. Cooking her food and charging cell phones has caused Florence and millions of others their health as well as a financial burden.
After hearing about Florence’s struggle from Anthony, our CityU Enactus team searched for a solution, which combines smokeless cooking and power. We commissioned two prototypes, a stove and a thermoelectric generator, which we combined and now call Green Energy Stove.
The Green Energy Stove is not just any other product. It is an empowerment tool, which solves more than one problem. The stove is smokeless. Getting rid of carbon monoxide and all the harmful chemicals will help to drastically improve health in the communities. Giving them a faster and efficient tool for cooking will allow them to spend less time on active cooking and more time working and caring for their families. Any biomass, such as agricultural waste or readily available bamboo, can be used as fuel, which would help reduce deforestation. Local communities can likewise benefit from jobs associated with stove construction and repair. We also found the stove produces biochar instead of useless ash.
Our Green Energy Stove’s differentiating factor is in its clean stove power generators. The power generators in the stove generate electricity during cooking by converting wasted heat energy into electricity. This electricity will be used to charge and power up devices such as cell phones and lamps. The results have been amazing. Florence can now read again, breathe better, have more productive crops with the biochar, and earn money by charging her neighbors' phones. We are now ready to reach many more Florences by working with established partners to pilot the Green Energy Center in Gabon with 200 units.
With your help, we can raise funds that we can loan to our partners for purchasing and distributing the stoves and the thermoelectric generators in Africa, and paying for initial training. The thermoelectric generators and the stove will then be sent to the Women’s group, which will combine them as one unit. With the stove already assembled, they could then start selling in the villages. The villagers could then pay back their microloans by selling biochar remains and charging phones in the local community. With a new source of income, they can pay off the total stove cost in less than four months. Once the women’s group pays us back, we can then start the whole process again.
Let's make the World a Better Place for All of US!