“As a young child, barefoot women and girls carrying heavy containers of water on their heads, walking long distances under the searing sun were a common sight. The reality of this stayed with me, and I knew I would do something about it someday.”
— OLANIKE OLUGBOJI, WEA FOUNDING MOTHER, PROJECT LEADER
The use of open fires and traditional cookstoves is a primary global health and environmental problem, killing over 4 million people every year and sickening millions more. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, more than 90% of the rural population relies on fuelwood and charcoal.
The health and economic burdens of dirty cookstoves disproportionately affect women and girls, who inhale the daily equivalent of up to 20 packs of cigarettes cooking 3 meals per day and spend up to 4 hours per day (or 60 days per year) collecting firewood; this means less time to attend school or work. Traditional cooking is also expensive, costing poor families money that could be better spent on education, health, and nutrition.
In Nigeria alone:
- 72% of Nigerians depend solely on fuelwood for cooking.
- Approximately 95,000 people die annually from inhaling smoke emanating from cooking with wood. *
- Lower respiratory infections were the leading cause of death, killing 290,200 people in 2012. *
- Nigeria has the largest desertification rates in the world with loss of 55.7% of its primary forests.
- The annual rate of deforestation in Nigeria is approximately 3.5% — between 350,000 and 400,00 hectares of land annually. *
Most people are not aware of the grave health and environmental risks associated with traditional open fire cooking, or cannot afford cleaner options.
WEA and WISE are partnering on the Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project to directly equip 30 women entrepreneurs with the training, seed grants, and leadership networks to become profitable entrepreneurs and clean energy leaders in their communities. These 30 women will go on to scale clean cookstove sales and spawn complementary clean energy enterprises and advocacy to benefit tens of thousands more Nigerians. As a result, these families will have the chance to breathe healthier air, reduce deforestation, increase household savings, improve health and safety, and transform their sense of personal and community empowerment. Our team aims to achieve the following:
- Clean cookstove businesses. 30 women leaders will launch and scale cookstove enterprises in teams of 2 with the support of a two-part intensive training, seed grant funding and peer support. Trainings cover financial management strategies, profit generation, clean cookstove technologies, leadership and entrepreneurship. The women will be equipped to market stoves with strategic messaging and train their communities on the benefits and operation of the new clean stoves, reaching 13,000 people in Kaduna state within one year.
- Leadership, advocacy, and intergenerational knowledge. In order for women and their families to adopt clean cookstoves, it is critical that they understand the life-threatening importance of replacing traditional cookstoves. Through participation in community trainings, public demonstrations, networking events, and advocacy campaigns, women across generations will increase their capacity and confidence to be social, ecological, and economic leaders in their families and communities for adoption of clean, safe cookstoves.
- Financing for cookstove purchasing. At an average price tag of approximately $15 per clean cookstove, even “affordable” clean cookstoves can be cost-prohibitive for low-income families in Nigeria. With lower firewood costs, these new stoves are expected to pay for themselves within 2-3 months of daily use.
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