This use of unsustainable fuels has serious environmental implications as large numbers of trees are cleared and burned to produce charcoal. Without energy alternatives, local forests face looming threats from continued deforestation, as well as air and water pollution. Additionally, the use of charcoal and firewood can be expensive for local businesses that need cheap, long-lasting energy.
Southern Kenya “has developed rapidly since the paving of its main highway, which has increased pressure on the natural resources of the nearby Chyulu Hills and Amboseli National Parks,” said Fiesta Warinwa, Kenya country director for AWF. “As the population grows, more wood will be needed for building materials, firewood, and charcoal. Change was essential.”
After an eight-month feasibility study determined that the town of Kimana would be receptive to eco-friendly cooking options, AWF funded the opening of the region’s first-ever jiko shop. A jiko is a type of cooking stove that uses charcoal more efficiently than traditional cooking stoves. In addition, the jiko saves forests by using charcoal made from just the branches and trimmings of trees.
Jiko stoves are not only preferable for environmental reasons, but also for economic ones. These stoves will last many years and can pay for themselves in energy savings within the first year. Since the shop’s doors opened in May 2012, AWF has been publicizing the many benefits of the jiko stove in the local community through demonstrations.
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