Image: Evelyn Mutindi using her new Safi e-cooker/ ClimateCare

Improving Health and Tackling Climate Change

By Rhiannon Szmigielski, ClimateCare

Improving Health and Tackling Climate Change

Today, climate and sustainable development expert ClimateCare, celebrated its 18th Birthday by launching a fund that aims to create a new market for ethanol cookers, improving the health of the local community and protecting the environment by cutting CO2 emissions. The work is part of a broader programme of activity that ClimateCare has been selected to deliver for DFID (The UK Department for International Development).

ClimateCare Directors Tom Morton and Edward Hanrahan were joined by Lisa Phillips, Head of DFID-Kenya in Kibera, Nairobi. They launched a revolving fund to allow residents to purchase clean burning ethanol cookers at an affordable price. The cookers, designed and distributed by Safi International, will change the way people in Nairobi cook, for good.

Every year in Kenya, 14,300 people die from exposure to toxic fumes from cooking and heating their homes on open fires and rudimentary stoves. Thanks to this innovative project, ethanol, a bi-product of Kenya’s successful sugar industry, is set to change this. Ethanol is a clean burning, renewable fuel. Replacing charcoal with ethanol fuel cuts out indoor air pollution, saving lives and lowers greenhouse gas emissions by 5 tonnes per household every year – helping to tackle climate change.

Creating a new market from scratch means developing cookers and fuel in tandem, creating distribution channels and then marketing and selling the concept on the ground. Safi International identified Kibera as the ideal location in which to initiate the market.

“Kibera is an ideal location for this project due to the high number of people using charcoal as their main source of fuel – when burnt on traditional stoves this has high indoor air pollution and high greenhouse gas emissions,” explains ClimateCare’s Tom Morton. “Furthermore, the concept of micro finance is well known in the community and Umande Trust presented itself as an efficient and reliable partner to manage micro loans from the fund to its members.”

The Safi Ethanol Cooker was extensively tested in Kisumu and Madagascar over a number of years to ensure its suitability and desirability for regular, domestic use. At the same time, sugar factories were engaged to turn their waste molasses into high quality, Safi branded, ethanol fuel. Distribution channels have now been set up for the sale of both stoves and fuel through many of the small retailers across Kibera, creating a value chain that stimulates the local economy at every step.

To make the purchase of a Safi Ethanol Cooker affordable for families, ClimateCare is using funding from UKaid to subsidise the initial cost and to create a revolving fund through which local Savings and Credits Co-operative Societies can lend money to their members at zero interest, enabling them to purchase a cooker. The first 800 cookers have been sold, and initial feedback from retailers and end consumers is excellent.

ClimateCare will be carrying out research to measure and report on all outcomes of the project – health, economic and environmental and will measure reductions in carbon delivered through the project using the Clean Development Mechanism. Selling the resulting carbon credits will be essential to the long term success and expansion of the project, with the income re-invested in the revolving fund, keeping the cost of the cookers down and allowing the project to continue and become financially sustainable.

“This kind of integrated project, designed from the outset to benefit people and the environment is exactly what our Climate+Care approach is about” said ClimateCare CEO Edward Hanrahan.

“Over the next year, this project is expected to reach 8000 families by making it affordable for communities in Kibera to buy and use ethanol fuelled cookers. But it will do so much more than this. Together with partners we are investing funds to kick start a market. We will continue to develop and support this market through each stage of its evolution, bringing in new corporate and public sector partners until one day, it is able to stand on its own two feet and deliver measurable benefits for communities around the world – that is the sort of legacy we want to create.”

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