The modernization of small business through the Ecostove in Nicaragua

The modernization of small business through the Ecostove in Nicaragua
Authors (non HEDON members)
Rogerio Miranda, Frances Tilney
In urban and rural Nicaragua, most women spend a great deal of the day hovering over an open flame. While smoke billows from between the three stones of a traditional fire, women stir corn, cook beans and scald their hands on tortillas, meanwhile breathing in particulate matter and damaging their health. Their children congregate in the under-ventilated cooking areas, peering through the haze created by the smoke from the open flames and playing with the dusty, gray refuse that collects on the walls and ceilings of the home after years of constant smoke impact. After diarrhea, acute respiratory illness is the leading cause of death in young children in Nicaragua. The culprit of this health crisis is clearly an archaic stove design that begs for modernization and development.
Besides the difficulties associated with constant smoke inhalation however, a traditional Nicaraguan stove adds to the economic difficulties of a family due to the inefficiency of its energy consumption. To heat small amounts of food, women will often place tremendously large pieces of wood or the entire trunk of a small tree (Figure 1) into one side of the stone structure from where much of the wood-burning energy is dissipated, rather than being directed at cooking the food. The demand for cooking fuel has remained high in Nicaragua over the past years, as the unemployment rate has risen very rapidly, and many women are forced to support an entire extended family on the small income of a cooking enterprise.To try to earn some income, women create small businesses by cooking tortillas, soups and quick meals. In Nicaragua, the typical meal of a nacatamale – a mixture of maize, vegetables and meat boiled for two hours inside a wrapping of plantain leaf – is often the main income-generating activity for a family. Selling food products from the backdoor of a home or from a street-side stand, women add to their daily regime of cooking family meals and cleaning the home through this time-intensive activity, in the hopes that the small profits will sustain the family until a husband or older child might find work. Younger daughters, and occasionally sons, will contribute to the mother’s enterprise by shaping tortillas or feeding the fire—further increasing their health problems and adding to the economic burden of buying constant fuel wood.
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Title in French
Modernisation de petites entreprises grâce à l’‘EcoStove’ au Nicaragua.
Abstract in French
Le foyer traditionnel utilisé au Nicaragua est polluant et non efficace énergétiquement. Le nouveau foyer diminue les coûts en combustible, et réduit de moitié les émissions de fumée qui sont évacuées par une cheminée. Les femmes, qui auparavant se plaignaient de problèmes respiratoires, de maux de têtes et de pertes d’acuité visuelle, travaillent maintenant dans de meilleures conditions. Par ailleurs, l’EcoStove a permis aux femmes de générer un modeste revenu provenant de la préparation et la vente de repas.

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010 Stoves
Tags:    BoilingPoint47    Improvedstoves    SmallBusiness    Nicaragua   

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  • A practitioner's journal on household energy, stoves and poverty reduction.

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