Category Archives: Rauchfreie Kochstellen

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Smoke-free cooking stations for people from the Nicaraguan region of Boaco

In collaboration with local people, we build innovative and healthy cooking pits for and with poor families in the Boaco region (Nicaragua). The cooking stoves are made from local materials, keep smoke out of the kitchen, reduce wood consumption and are built together with the new owners.

By combining simple materials, education about the functionality of the cooking pit and the integration of the beneficiaries in the construction process we support independence and health of the people living on Ometepe in the long term.

The Problem:

Many people, especially in the rural regions of Nicaragua, mainly cook with wood on open cooking pits without the smoke being directed outside. Thus, the smoke spreads throughout the house, affecting everyone inside. The consequences are respiratory diseases, headaches and eye problems. Plastic is often used to light the fire. This makes the gases even more toxic and people are more likely to develop serious respiratory diseases such as lung cancer. Also: families cut down an excessive number of trees to obtain firewood, which reduces the forest population.

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The Solution

Sanito e.V. supports the construction of sustainable cooking pits, that are built using local resources.

This is innovative, since it is a cooking pit, which

  • extracts the smoke out of the house through stovepipes
  • wastes less wood, while offering an improved cooking possibility
  • by using less wood simultaneously reduces the work load of the families
  • uses local materials, like soil and horse droppings (as well as concrete and recyclable materials like glass bottles)

Sustainable, because

  • beneficiaries are selected who have limited resources and only an open fireplace for cooking
  • the beneficiaries themselves help to build the new kitchens
  • the beneficiaries plant trees to support reforestation.

Local, because

  • the construction work is carried out by locals who are experts in stove building for locals.
  • In this way, they support the local economy, which benefits other families.

The costs:

The construction of a cooking area costs approx. 150 €. This includes the material costs (concrete, stove pipe etc.) as well as the construction costs.

The aim is to build several cooking pits over the next few months. As we estimate the demand to be very high, we hope to finance at least 20 cooking stoves.

Who are we?

Sanito – Förderverein für gesundes Leben in Nicaragua e. V. is a German non-profit association based in Frohburg, Saxony. The association is dedicated to the promotion of health, in the sense of development cooperation, in Latin America, especially in Nicaragua.

We are committed to a sustainable regional food supply, organic farming and comprehensive health care in Latin America. Based on our experiences and experiences so far, we start in Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Latin America. We place a special focus on preventive health care. We also promote the exchange of volunteers and knowledge. We also want to strengthen international understanding between Germany and the people of Latin America.

Project implementation:

By working with the Leipzig-based cooperative Cafe Chavalo [LINK], we gain access to the coffee-producing cooperative “Tierra Nueva” from the Boaco region, which in turn supports us in working with local kitchen farmers and in selecting beneficiaries.

The project is implemented as follows:

Step 1: Selecting the location

Places in the Boaco region in the immediate vicinity of the “Tierra Nueva” coffee cooperative, where people cook on open fires and have no facilities to prevent smoke, are considered for selection.

Step 2: Selection of beneficiaries

IIn collaboration with the local coffee cooperative, families are selected who have few resources and only cook on an open fire. In interviews with the family members, the Sanitos assess the family’s situation and willingness to participate in the project.

Step 3: Building the cooking stoves

The beneficiaries provide materials such as soil, ash and horse droppings and help to build the cooking stoves. The local kitchen builders then build the kitchens together with the beneficiary families and also procure the other building materials such as concrete or the stove pipe.

Step 4: Planting trees

Once the cooking area has been built, the beneficiary families plant trees to support the reforestation of the forest.

Bau der Kochfelder

Why Smoke-Free Cooking Stoves Are a Foundation We Should Build On

The Problem

When we think about tackling the biggest diseases in developing countries, we usually first think about diseases like HIV, malaria etc. which are, without a doubt, important diseases to tackle. But we often forget the simplest and most common diseases that still kill the most children worldwide, especially in developing countries like pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Pneumonia is the leading killer of children under 5 and responsible for every 6th childhood death. In 2015, every single hour over 100 children died from pneumonia (UNICEF, 2016), totalling up to 920,000 deaths. Pneumonia is a respiratory infection in the lungs that can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. It does not only make breathing painful but also restricts it.

Household Air Pollution

Girls and women are more vulnerable to contracting pneumonia, as more than 50% of all pneumonia infections are attributed to inhaled household air pollution (WHO, 2016). According to the WHO (2016), 3 billion people cook and heat their homes with unprocessed solid fuels using open fires causing a total of 4.3 million people to die prematurely each year. Pneumonia only makes up to 12% of these deaths. Other illnesses include strokes, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer.

Prevention of Pneumonia

Pneumonia can be easily treated in countries with sufficient health infrastructure, access to hospitals and health care which is, especially in rural areas of developing countries, not accessible. Therefore, prevention is a crucial part when it comes to improving health in rural areas. One of such prevention methods are smoke-free cooking stoves, as cooking stoves are a major contributor to household pollution.

Sanito’s Smoke-Free Cooking Stoves

Smoke-free cooking stoves are a wonderful and effective way to prevent these kinds of respiratory diseases. The stoves built by REMO and financed by Sanito on Ometepe, Nicaragua, are not only properly built but also redirect the smoke out of the house through a pipe, reducing household air pollution and, consequently, inhaled fumes. Next to this, they also benefit the environment as they need less solid fuels and are built by local women. Therefore, the project does not only improve health and benefit the environment but also empowers women; this combination is definitely a foundation we should build on.

(1) Household air pollution and health (WHO, 2016)
(2) One is too many, Ending child deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea (UNICEF, 2016)

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REMO – Women’s network on Ometepe

Who is the women’s group REMO and why are we supporting the project „La innovación S.A.“ with the construction of smoke-free cooking stoves?

For the construction of smoke-free cooking stoves on Ometepe, Sanito works together with the women’s group or women’s network REMO. REMO is a social movement which was founded by and for women on Ometepe. Together they defend women’s rights whereby they receive local, national and even international support. Every REMO member works on a voluntary basis on projects and takes over various tasks depending on personal possibilities. Their commitment is by choice as the women know that they mainly work to improve their own wellbeing and can support other women only in this way.

The main principles of REMO

  • Commitment to women’s safety and against physical, psychological as well as institutional violence (inequality before the law)
  • Environmental questions and the role of women participating in these and they are involved in
  • raising female political and social citizen participation
  • improve health, especially of women and
  • increasing economic independence and self-occupation of women.

For the execution of their projects, REMO (Facebook page) leases a property in Ometepe in the town of Santa Cruz. The women meet there regularly to organise and carry out various activities. For example, every now and then there is a family movie night or there are events for children and teenagers. In addition, the location serves to financially strengthen the women’s group. On the one hand, REMO runs a small hostel, on the other hand, it operates an organic-intensive vegetable cultivation. The hostel “Espirales” automatically brings autonomous employment opportunities. This way they can secure their income and furthermore generate revenue for social work and workshops. In the garden, they grow staple foods such as rice, corn, beans and local types of vegetables. These contribute to a healthy diet of the women and their families as well as are an additional source of revenue.

REMO Red de Mujeres de Ometepe - Women's network on Ometepe

Red de Mujeres de Ometepe

„La innovación S.A.“ and why Sanito supports the construction of smoking-free cooking stoves

Some members of REMO have received training in building smoking-free cooking stoves and consequently founded the business „La innovación S.A.“. The aim is to market and build innovative cooking stoves on Ometepe. These cooking stoves have many advantages in comparison to open-fire stoves that are usually used for cooking on Ometepe. For example, they direct the smoke via a pipe out of the house and thus, prevent people in the kitchen from inhaling the smoke. By using heat more effectively, they also need less firewood which in turn benefits the environment.

Bottom line: Through the women’s training to become small producers of smoke-free cooking stoves, nature is protected and health of Ometepe’s inhabitants as well as women’s economic independence is promoted. We think that’s great and that’s why Sanito wants to promote the stoves’ spread. We want to raise awareness of the benefits of smoke-free cooking and strengthen “La innovación S.A.”. Further, we want that also the poorest of the poor benefit from the cooking zones. Many people, especially single unemployed women, cannot afford such a cooking stove and without your help they could not have a share of the project’s benefits.

(Translated by: Deborah Hosemann)

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