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Development project 9 of 16
Title
Fuel-Efficient Stoves
Location
Communities around Virunga National Park, DR Congo
Gorillas
Mountain gorillas
Local Partner:   AIDE-Kivu
Description

With only 700 individuals remaining, the critically endangered mountain gorilla is in danger of extinction from habitat destruction caused by trespassing into the Virunga National Park, DR Congo to collect firewood and produce charcoal. The impoverished communities surrounding the park are reliant on these resources, used extensively for cooking and heating, but their use has a negative impact both socially and environmentally. The collection of firewood from the park is incredibly time-consuming and physically exhausting, and children are often involved, which means their education suffers as a result. Burning fuel within the household also damages health due to the large volumes of noxious smoke given off. Furthermore, both firewood collection and illegal charcoal production have a detrimental effect on the environment through habitat destruction.

The fuel-efficient stoves project was launched in partnership with local NGO AIDE-Kivu (Appui aux Initiatives de Développement et Gestion de l’Environnement au Kivu) in January 2008, and has since been producing and distributing ‘Jiko’ stoves, which reduce the consumption of firewood and charcoal by at least 55%. These not only benefit the environment, but also reduce the cost of fuel, as less is required, and produce less smoke than traditional stoves, improving families’ health.

The overall aim of the project is to reduce reliance on the resources of the Virunga National Park, DR Congo. The specific objectives are: 

  • To produce and distribute fuel-efficient stoves in North Kivu Province, DR Congo.
  • To raise awareness within local communities of environmental issues and the need for conservation.
  • To improve health by reducing the volume of harmful smoke produced by stoves.

Buy a family a fuel-efficient stove for £15

 

Progress

A stove production centre was set up shortly after the project was established and a multimedia campaign, involving a combination of discussions, radio broadcasts and leaflet distribution, has been educating the communities on the benefits of owning a stove. The campaign also covers topics related to the environment and conservation to raise awareness on the need to protect the national park and its wildlife.

The stoves produced in the centre are sold for $2 each, as purchasing them confers a sense of ownership and ensures the stoves are used and maintained. The funds generated are then reinvested in the project. The demand for stoves has increased rapidly since the project began, and at the end of 2008 a total of 496 had been produced. Families with Jiko stoves are now saving time and money by using just 1.5 sacks of charcoal per month instead of the four used before they owned a stove, while human pressure on the park has reduced and less fuel is being burnt, therefore contributing to the fight against climate change.

2009 has been designated by the United Nations as ‘Year of the Gorilla', with the fuel-efficient stoves project being selected as a ‘Year of the Gorilla Conservation Project’ on account of its significant role in tackling one of the most immediate threats to the future survival of mountain gorillas.

Furthermore, the project also recently beat off almost 1,000 other entries to reach the final stages of World Challenge 2009, a global competition that honours projects showing enterprise and innovation at a grassroots level. Along with 11 other initiatives, the project will be showcased on BBC World News and in BBC Newsweek magazine in late September, and people worldwide will have the chance to vote for their favourite, with the winner receiving $20,000. For more information check out http://gorillas.org/worldchallenge09 and watch this space for further information on how to vote for fuel-efficient stoves as your winner!

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