Nigerian Women Risk Their Health to Feed their Families

Project: WISE Women's Clean Cookstoves Project


WEA is honored and proud to share that our Nigeria Project Lead, Olanike Olugboji, was recently featured in TIME Magazine, sharing an important issue that’s at the heart of our collaborative WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project.

Photo: Olanike Olugboji

“Over 98,000 Nigerian women die annually from use of firewood. If a woman cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner, it is equivalent to smoking between three and 20 packets of cigarettes a day.”

In her article, Olanike shares her personal story of growing up in a middle-class family in Nigeria that was fortunate enough to have the choice of cooking and heating fuels: gas, kerosene or wood. Unfortunately, as Olanike saw in her own community—and as remains the case today—not all families could afford alternatives to wood-burning cookstoves, and it is the women who most often bear the body burden of collecting and burning firewood. Mothers, daughters and sisters risk rape or assault on the long walks to gather biomass, and the smoke and residue from the open fire stoves used for cooking and heating pose grave dangers to their health.

Recognizing this alarming reality, Olanike and WEA have partnered together to design and host capacity-building trainings for women leaders from at least 5 states in Nigeria to promote and sell clean cookstoves. These trainings aim to increase participants access to safe, affordable, and energy saving heating and cooking options, support their employment and income generation, and more.

To learn more about Olanike and our WISE Women’s Clean Cookstoves Project, visit us here.

How Funding Women’s Climate Action is Unique and Necessary

Project: Mexican Indigenous Women Uniting for Land Protection

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 Global Greengrants Fund, the leading environmental fund supporting grassroots action on a global scale, and The International Network of Women’s Funds have put together a guide to supporting grassroots women’s organizations working on climate justice and women’s rights across the globe. The guide specifically addresses the urgent needs within the funding community and aims to increase appropriate funding for climate action and women’s rights worldwide led by women.

Women’s funders might describe grants that build on women’s traditional roles in agriculture or as service providers… [and] Although such interventions have supported women to mobilize and articulate their rights, they do not always challenge women’s secondary status in societies or address existing power dynamics within families and communities.

You can read the entirety of the guide here.

Lack of access to water and toilets has untold effects

Project: Women Building a Water Movement in East Africa

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Women water africa

According to UNICEF, about 157 million people in the Eastern and Southern Africa region (ESAR) do not have access to a clean and safe water distribution system, and therefore rely on external water sources. This is compounded by an additional lack of reliable and improved sanitation.

Additionally, as WEA has seen in our own work in communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, the burden of fetching water, no matter how far away it might be, falls disproportionately on women and girls, thus limiting the time they can spend of self-sustaining tasks, school and, eventually, work. Furthermore, once a girl reaches puberty, and without private, separate and safe sanitation resources, they often miss school when menstruating, ultimately resulting in a significant portion of school days missed.

While women often have the primary responsibility for the management of household water supply, they are rarely consulted or involved in the planning and management of this vital resource. In sub-Saharan Africa, women produce up to 80 percent of basic foodstuffs, yet they have the least access to the means of production.

[However] A World Bank evaluation of 122 water projects found that the effectiveness of a project was six to seven times higher where women were involved than where they were not.

Read more over at UNICEF.

WEA not alone

Project: WISE Women's Clean Cookstoves Project

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“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.”


Meet Olanike Olugboji, a WEA founding mother, who participated in our first Women and Water Training in Kenya, and then returned to Nigeria with a clear vision and a strong network. Equipped with technical skills, entrepreneurship training, and seed funding, Olanike launched her own NGO called WISE, which today has trained over 3,000 women in clean energy, safe water technologies, and entrepreneurship. Her work has created refuge for Nigerian women, who risk rape or assault on the long walks to fetch water and firewood, as well as opportunity for women to create a livelihood and secure a future for their children.

After joining WEA as a regional coordinator, Olanike linked with women around the world, and today has a global reach. Olanike is a correspondent with World Pulse, a recipient of numerous international awards, and a participant in several prestigious leadership trainings. WEA is now collaborate with Olanike and her team at WISE to train women in promoting and selling clean cookstoves, linking up with the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in Nigeria. (If a woman cooks breakfast, lunch and dinner over a wood fire, she suffers the equivalent of smoking between 3 and 20 packets of cigarettes a day. Over 120,000 Nigerian women die annually from inhalation of firewood smoke.) Olanike’s impact on the environment and on women’s well-being and livelihood has only just begun.

Together, we can build the leadership of women who will create a future of balance, health, and peace for our world.

Water Tanks Sustain, Empower Women

Project: Safe Water Solutions for Sub-Saharan African Women

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Source: Al Jazeera
Source: Al Jazeera

At a training with the Global Women’s Water Initiative in East Africa, in 2011, 175 Women received training on how to build new water tanks for their communities, and how to tackle water, hygiene and sanitation issues in their neighborhoods. Prior to the tanks, women sustained injuries from carrying extremely heavy water loads over long distances, and were vulnerable to assault on their journey. Now, thanks to the tanks, the amount of time spent fetching water has been reduced from an hour to less than 10 minutes. Nearly three-quarters of the trainees have since become masons trainers and social entrepreneurs, increasing their income and empowering themselves.

To me water is life. Once you have water in the house then other things are solved. The time used to get water is reduced. The reduced time is translated into other development activities. These development activities within the community entirely changes the country … So empowering a woman to me is changing economies. It’s giving power.
-Rose Atieno, social worker and trainee

You can read the full article here.