FUEL-EFFICIENT COOKSTOVES IN MALAWI, AFRICA
- Three-stone fires use three to four bundles of wood each week
- This amount of wood takes three to five hours each week to collect
- Three-stone fires produce a lot of smoke
- Children are more at risk from burns
- Each Changu Changu Moto fuel-efficient cookstove uses only one bundle of wood per week
- It produce less smoke and the fire in the cookstove is contained and is therefore much safer with less risk of burns
- The cookstove benefits from being a double burner
- It is cheap and easy to build
Fuel-efficient Cookstoves in Malawi, Africa
Achievements and Future Plans
So far, we have helped communities construct over 47,000 Changu Changu Moto cookstoves and have supported the householders to maintain and use them. This has resulted in 94,000 fewer bundles of firewood being needed every week, reducing household wood use by 67%. With additional funding, we hope to provide more Changu Changu Motos to expand the project.
How We Work
Local community volunteers for each village are trained and then work with the communities to build a Changu Changu Moto fuel-efficient cookstove in each kitchen. Each house is regularly monitored and householders are trained on maintenance and wood use, and the information is recorded on a database. We continue to monitor the households to make sure that this simple technology becomes a way of life.
£10 could build a Changu Changu Moto fuel-efficient cookstove
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Why It Is So Important
Ripple Africa is helping local communities to build fuel-efficient clean cookstoves in Malawi, Africa. Ripple Africa’s fuel-efficient cookstove is called the “Changu Changu Moto” which means “Fast Fast Fire” in Chichewa. The Changu Changu Moto:
- reduces household wood use from three bundles of wood per week to just one
- contains the fire within the cookstove at the side of the kitchen, reducing injuries from burns
- has a double burner so that two pots can be cooked simultaneously, saving time
produces substantially less smoke than the traditional three-stone fire, reducing coughing and breathing problems
- takes just one hour to make and is made from free local and readily available materials, and
- is LOVED by all the women who use it!
The Changu Changu Moto is a sustainable and locally produced fuel-efficient cookstove made out of just 26 mud bricks and a mud mortar mix. It is an adaption of a 16-brick design by Dr Larry Winiarski and has been specially modified by Ripple Africa for Malawi after lots of positive trials and community feedback.
Ripple Africa has worked with several types of fuel-efficient cookstoves over the years; however, we firmly believe the Changu Changu Moto is the most realistic and aptly suited fuel-efficient cookstove design for rural Africa we have ever seen.
The project aims are as follows:
- Tackling deforestation in Malawi – Around 95% of families in Malawi depend on wood for cooking and millions of trees are cut down every year for use on inefficient traditional three-stone open fires. Our Changu Changu Moto project has resulted in 97,000 fewer bundles of firewood being needed EVERY WEEK, reducing household wood use by 67%.
- Improving the health of women and children – According to the World Health Organisation (2018) close to 4 million people die prematurely each year from illness attributable to household air pollution from inefficient cooking practices. The Changu Changu Moto produces less smoke, reducing smoke inhalation by people cooking or sitting around the fire. Also in Malawi, women traditionally prepare the food with their children playing near them in the kitchen and it is common for children to fall into the fire or for women’s long skirts to catch fire. Sixty percent of households consulted by Ripple Africa reported that a member of their family had sustained serious burns from a traditional three-stone cooking fire. The Changu Changu Moto fire is contained, greatly reducing the risk of burns while cooking.
- Sustainability – The stoves are made of a simple mud mortar mix and can be easily repaired by householders when broken. Ripple Africa doesn’t build the stove and walk away but works with households to deliver the long-term education which will ensure the stove will be used for life.
- Saving labour – For women who collect wood, the stove can mean a saving of up to 10 hours each week. The stoves also cook faster (Changu Changu Moto actually means Fast Fast Fire in Chichewa), and the double burner means food is ready in half the time. This frees up time which women can spend on other activities.
- Saving money – In many parts of Malawi, people cut down trees from existing forests near their home. However, in urban or heavily deforested rural areas, families have to buy their fuel for cooking. Wood is extremely expensive and makes up a huge proportion of a family’s expenditure, and a 67% saving in money spent on wood is particularly important to poor families.
- Educating families about sustainable living – In addition to teaching people how to use the fuel-efficient cookstoves, much time is spent on discussing why people should use them. Users learn about the problems of deforestation, and the importance of sustainable and environmentally friendly living solutions. This is the key to ensuring the long term success of the project.
What We Have Achieved
We have reduced the burns rate within Nkhata Bay District by more than 60% as the fuel-efficient cookstoves are safer than a three stone fire.
How We Work
The Changu Changu Moto project is a great example of Ripple Africa working in partnership with the community to assess what is needed most and finding simple solutions quickly to meet these needs. Over the years, we have made several adaptations to the project such as:
- several improvements to the stove model and the number of bricks used
- the way our Project Coordinators are trained, and
- the best way to work with the local communities.
When we first started the Changu Changu Moto project, the high demand and simple nature of the fuel-efficient cookstoves enabled us to roll out the project quickly in different areas.
While we expanded quickly, some of the households stopped using the stoves a few months after they were built. When Ripple Africa investigated the reasons for this, the solutions were often simple – for example, teaching families about the correct use of wood for the fuel-efficient cookstove and that large branches and tree trunks well suited to an open three-stone fire are too big for the Changu Changu Moto, so encouraging them to harvest smaller branches instead.
The solution was simple, but it took several follow-up visits to get the stove in use again.
To ensure better quality control, we now have a new monitoring and evaluation system:
- We measure not just the number of stoves built, but the number of stoves still in use.
- Coordinators return to each household several times over a two-year period to ensure problems are addressed.
- This gives us more opportunity to educate families and to solve any problems that they may have.
- The data we now have on every stove means that we can assure our donors that the project has been a success.
The Project's Future
Deforestation in Africa is a huge problem, but we believe that the use of our fuel-efficient cookstoves in Malawi will help save millions of trees. We expect that every stove built will continue to be in use for an indefinite period of time. With the longer monitoring period, our hope is that any problems are addressed during this period, so the stoves will be in use well into the future. Householders are taught to care for, repair, and even replace their stoves, so the outcomes from the initial investment will carry on for years to come. We have also helped families to plant their own trees which can be coppiced to provide a sustainable source of fuel close to where it is needed.
How to Make the Changu Changu Moto Fuel-efficient Cookstove
Anyone can build their own Changu Changu Moto fuel-efficient cookstove, and we encourage people to copy our design! Just follow the instructions below or download our Step-by-Step Guide on how to build one.
This project addresses the following Sustainable Development Goals: