Every year, De la Gente hosts service learning trips with groups of students from around the US and Canada. One of our main activities this year is constructing fuel efficient stoves for families of the cooperatives with whom we work. These stoves provide a safe cooking surface, a chimney to carry the smoke out of the house and use 50% less firewood than an open fire. Each stove greatly improves the overall health and wellness of each family while helping to preserve the environment.
Seventy-seven percent (77%) of Guatemalan families use wood as their main fuel source because they do not have access to clean fuels and thus have to use open wood fires to cook. Families spend many hours each week harvesting firewood, which can not only cause chronic back pain, but it also leads to deforestation. In fact, 90% of wood cut annually in Guatemala is for fuel.
Health is the biggest concern though! Smoke from the open fires is dangerous and can cause lung infections, asthma, and even cancer. A typical indoor fire creates carbon monoxide and other noxious fumes at anywhere between seven and 500 times over the allowable limits in the United States. The World Bank rated indoor air pollution in developing countries as one of the four most critical global environmental problems. The burden of this smoke is placed primarily on women and children. According to the World Health Organization, one out of five children in Guatemala dies before age 5. They further state that the leading cause of death in this age range is acute respiratory infection (from breathing the heavy smoke of cooking fires). Furthermore, upper respiratory infection is the number one killer of women in Guatemala. Living in a smoke-free environment increases life expectancy by 10 to 15 years!
Help support the stove project by donating to DLG, ensuring better health for all of the families with whom we work.