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Eco-friendly stoves improve health in Honduras

Plan and partners provide the training, materials, and bricklayers to construct the stoves. Families are expected to build the base using materials provided, and help the bricklayer do his work.
Plan and partners provide the training, materials, and bricklayers to construct the stoves. Families are expected to build the base using materials provided, and help the bricklayer do his work.
Some of the women add ceramic tile to their stoves to make them look nicer. PHOTOS: Plan staff
Some of the women add ceramic tile to their stoves to make them look nicer.

PHOTOS: Plan staff
September 14, 2010

Families in rural Honduras now have a cleaner, safer, and more efficient method of cooking thanks to a community project implemented by Plan.

In Honduras, most rural families still use a traditional wood-burning stove to prepare food. Traditional stoves require a lot of firewood and are not designed to manage the large amounts of smoke produced. This can lead to respiratory disease, especially in the mothers and children who spend more time in the home.

To alleviate this problem, Plan implemented a project that provides families with a new model stove that uses less wood and produces less smoke. Plan partnered with Mirador Project - a local organization responsible for building over 7,000 efficient stoves in Honduras since 2004.

At the beginning of the project, Plan met with participating communities and explained the benefits of the stoves and what they expected from each family. The families in turn had the opportunity to express their opinions and commit themselves to the project.

For each stove, Plan and Mirador Project provided the training, materials and bricklayer. The families were expected to participate in the construction, so that they would know how to build and maintain of the stoves on their own.

With their new stoves in place, the participating families are now enjoying the benefits:

Because there is less smoke in the home, the families are healthier and see less incidence of respiratory disease, especially in the women and children. Says one mother, “If this stove project had taken place years ago, my grandmother would not have died of asthma.”

They also report that their homes are cleaner, and that the children don’t have to spend as much time looking for firewood – allowing them more time for education and recreation. Less trees cut down for firewood also means that they are helping to conserve the environment, and better protect themselves from natural disasters like flooding and mudslides.

As word spreads, more and more families are asking to be included in the project. “It used to be that we went into the communities to ‘sell’ the idea of the project. Now they come to us,” said Emilia Mendoza, head of Mirador Project.

Before each community meeting, she explains, they are given a list of families that will participate in the project. “Now, when we get to the meeting, we throw away that list. We make up a new one with the names of all the people that come to the meeting. And they have to learn what is expected of them, how to build their part and how to maintain the stoves.”

The project has been so successful that it also recently caught the attention of the mayor of Gualjioquito. He decided to pledge his support, and between Plan, Mirador Project and the mayor’s office, nearly every family in the community was able to receive a new stove.

To date, over 9,000 stoves have been constructed.

Plan intends to continue the project to include more families and communities throughout the country.

Learn more about Plan’s work in Honduras.