It is still common for households in Nigerian communities to use firewood for cooking, creating a demand for firewood in a region severely affected by deforestation and climate change. Traditional fire stoves are an inefficient energy source. They pose significant health risks, primarily affecting women who have to cook over open flames in a closed space on a daily basis. Clean cookstoves, on the other hand, lead to better health outcomes, reduce deforestation and carbon emissions, increase revenues of cookstove entrepreneurs, and reduce household spending on firewood.
Women's Earth Alliance (WEA) and Women’s Initiative for Sustainable Environment (WISE) addresses this need by helping women build and scale clean cookstove businesses, train their families and communities to adopt cookstoves, and form networks to advocate for clean energy at the local national levels. Known as the Women’s Clean Cookstove Project, a multi-year initiative was launched as a capacity-building training for women entrepreneurs and leaders from Kaduna State in Nigeria to promote and sell clean cookstoves.
The program included clean cookstove business training, leadership and advocacy skill development, and financing for clean cookstove purchasing. The Nigeria Clean Cookstoves Initiatives aims to train women in clean cookstoves entrepreneurship and build a replicable training model for other regions and improve the health and safety of women. Around 93,000 people die each year of smoke-related illness in Nigeria, and globally 3 billion people cook over open fires, producing 2-5% of annual greenhouse gas emissions.
After completing the training with the support of Nigerian women trainers and cookstove vendors, all participants have a strong foundation of economic principles, technical know-how on clean cooking technologies, marketing strategies, and leadership skills.
Participants return to their communities equipped with training and startup capital to launch clean energy initiatives based on their business plans. They hit the ground running – hosting outreach events to demonstrate the benefits of cookstoves and to motivate community members to purchase this life-saving solution. Trainers and staff then make field visits to provide cookstove teams with support to ensure successful enterprise launch and growth.
WEA Alliance Leaders in Nigeria are creating a significant impact for both people and the planet, restoring forests and sequestering carbon, improving human health, supporting ecological and cultural diversity, and expanding economic resilience. The women form networks to advocate for clean energy at the local and national levels in a region severely impacted by climate change, deforestation, and poverty, where high percentages of women are sick and die from smoke inhalation from traditional open stoves.
To date the program has supported 30 women leaders, in teams of two, to launch cookstove enterprises. The women were equipped to market stoves with strategic messaging and trained their communities on the benefits and operation of the new clean stoves, reaching 13,000 people in Kaduna state within one year. At an average price tag of approximately $15 per clean cookstove, even “affordable” clean cookstoves can be cost-prohibitive for low-income families in Nigeria. With lower firewood costs, these new stoves pay for themselves within 2-3 months of daily use.
The clean cookstoves in this program utilize a cleaner and more efficient way of burning solid materials known as fuel briquettes, which are made of wood, charcoal, animal dung, and agricultural waste. These can be burned for energy without creating the smoke issues associated with traditional stoves. Currently, investments are being made to produce briquettes in-house, so it is not an additional expense for the household.
WEA and WISE are working to expand this training model to women throughout Nigeria. The funding need for the Nigeria Clean Cookstoves Initiative for one year of programming and operations is $100,000. This work has a 5 to 1 return on investment. Every $100 invested in WEA means 50 people benefit from training and hands-on technologies like clean cookstoves and sustainable microenterprises that improve the health and safety of women, reduce deforestation and increase household savings. In addition, over 500 people will benefit from the impacts of these initiatives through results like clean air, safe water, healthy food, and forest protection.