One of the issues identified during my assessment trip to Waumini was the hazard of smoke caused by indoor cooking. The World Health Organization estimates nearly 2 million people die prematurely from illness attributable to indoor air pollution from household solid fuel use – the burning of maize. The homes in Waumini are typically one room structures constructed of a wood frame covered with mud. All of the daily activities, such as sleeping and cooking, are held in the space. Additionally homes are constructed without enough, if any, openings for ventilation and smoke to escape. The homes lack openings for daylight and ventilation in part because the families are trying to keep the cold out during the cold months and can’t afford windows and vents.
The ASH housing team, through our field ambassador Kyle Murakami, worked intimately and collaboratively with the residents to build a rammed earth stove – a cooking surface that has been implemented by the East Africa Trust in Kenya and other parts of Africa. The stove provides a healthier and efficient means of cooking indoors because it allows smoke to exit directly to the outside. It is made by ramming several layers of damp soil into a mold, making sure it’s compacted, then letting it dry for several days. The design of the mold also allows for two pots to be cooking at the same time compared to the single pot methods currently used by the residents.
With the assistance of the East Africa Trust, the stove has been tested and tweaked and is now working as designed. Its completion pushes Waumini one step closer to creating healthier homes to support the healthcare that ASH is bringing to the community. It is amazing to see the difference that a mound of dirt can make when used resourcefully.
Our next challenge is to build the stoves in a reasonable amount of time and establish a plan to make the mold accessible to many families throughout Waumini and surrounding villages. Stay Tuned.