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Eco-Stoves: Small fires, big impacts

3 min read

Updated 26 May 2024

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Picture of Chris McIntyre

By Chris McIntyre

Managing Director
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*A version of this article originally appeared in the May 2024 Bush Telegraph newsletter. You can read our recent newsletters and sign-up to receive these in your inbox on our Bush Telegraph newsletter page.

At Expert Africa we’re always on the lookout for great projects that encourage conservation and improve the situation for local communities. Often small local efforts can have an outsize positive impact on the community and surrounding environment. 

One such effort is the Eco-Stove initiative in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia, run by Project Luangwa.  

From curbing deforestation to encouraging female empowerment and improving health and living conditions, there are many benefits to this neat stove-in-a-box. Replacing traditional, open-fire cooking with these ingenious, brick-mounted, flat-pack metal Eco-Stoves has the power to make an immense difference to both the environment and individuals, especially women, who use them.

The key is fuel-efficiency: these stoves use much less wood than an open fire; they operate well with relatively small twigs. Hence, it’s estimated that each Eco-Stove stops between two and four tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.  

It also saves the women of the household (it’s invariably the women!) hours of work by speeding up the daily chores of wood collection and building up open, and inefficient, fires. Hence saving them time for education, work, or other ways for women to improve their families’ lives.

The handmade mud-brick surround, which contributes to the Eco-Stove’s efficiency, also reduces the risk of fire injuries – a common problem with open fires, especially for children. Meanwhile more efficient combustion means less smoke and a reduction in the incidence of respiratory diseases, from pneumonia to lung cancer, which are all too common here.

When we saw these Eco-Stoves in action in August 2022, we were so taken by their ability to effect real and immediate change that Expert Africa has pledged to buy an Eco-Stove for a Zambian family for every online review that one of our travellers writes about Expert Africa.

We’ve been bowled over by the success of this small initiative – as well as how some of our travellers have so kindly made extra donations directly. Together, in just two years we’ve funded eco-stoves for about 200 families.

Now this scheme in Zambia is under threat, so we’re looking to scale our support for it. Meanwhile, we’d encourage anyone who has enjoyed the wonder of safari to join us in supporting this fantastic project by donating here. It only costs £10 to buy a family an Eco-Stove.

We want to provide as many of these stoves as possible, so please help us to help these communities!


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