, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 15 – It’s not every day that Kibera resident Evelyn Mutindi receives visitors from the United Kingdom, let alone the press in her two room shack in what is said to be one of the largest slums in the world.
It’s no wonder then that she looks a little overwhelmed as she fields questions from her guests and entertains her one year-old son Jonathan, who sits on her lap, with a grey and white dolphin toy.
But it’s not the toy that interests him but the microphones which he keeps pushing to the side, away from his mother’s face; unaware that he and the stove that’s been carried out of their mud kitchen are the subject of discussion.
Their visitors from UKaid and UK based ClimateCare being in the area to launch a revolving fund meant to enable more Kibera residents purchase a stove like theirs.
A stove which his mother says keeps his lungs healthy and enables her to save the Sh800 she’d spend, a week, on hospital visits due to the respiratory problems her son experienced when she used a kerosene stove to cook.
“Explain to her that statistic I found. That if you use kerosene, it’s the same as smoking two packets of cigarettes a day,” Lisa Phillips, the head of UKaid in Kenya, prompts.
Their pocket-friendly solution for people like Mutindi who cannot afford gas, washing clothes for a living, is ethanol fuelled stoves such as the one her visitors crowd around in the alley outside her kitchen.
In order to enable more Kibera residents in circumstances similar to Mutindi’s purchase the stove for themselves, UKaid, ClimateCare and Safi International on Thursday launched a revolving fund that would allow groups of no less than 15 to purchase the stoves – which retail at Sh2,500 – at an initial payment of Sh480.
The individuals in the group would then pay in 12 or five weekly instalments, Sh210 or Sh500 respectively based on their financial capability.
“Over the next year, this project is expected to reach 8,000 families by making it affordable for communities in Kibera to buy and use ethanol fuelled cookers,” ClimateCare Chief Executive Officer Edward Hanrahan explained on the launch.
According to Safi International which designed, manufactures and distributes the stoves, 800 units had been sold as of Thursday.
In addition to addressing the respiratory problems caused by the use of kerosene, charcoal and firewood – 14,300 Kenyans estimated to die annually from use of these fuels – the stoves are created to be environmentally friendly.
The ‘clean’ ethanol the stoves use, Safi International explained, being sourced from sugar factories who: “turn their waste molasses into high quality, Safi branded, ethanol fuel.”
The stoves are also intended to economically empower the residents of Kibera who have opened a number of outlets within the slum where residents can purchase the ethanol at Sh87 a litre, as well as the stoves.