World Environment Day and 1.5 Million Stoves Milestone

Happy World Environment Day 2023. We join in the global effort to raise awareness and encourage action to protect the environment. Our Live Well programme has so far provided 1.5 million improved cookstoves to rural communities across Africa, and they have a vital role to play in protecting the environment.  

Disasters linked to weather extremes are becoming more frequent and intense as the world experiences global warming and land degradation is a major contributor to climate change and a leading driver of biodiversity loss. The cutting down of trees to provide cooking fuel causes extensive deforestation in many of the world’s least developed countries where over 2 billion people are still dependent on wood fuelled traditional open fires. This has devastating consequences for the climate, the environment and the local communities.

As well as the burning of wood being a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, when heavy rains hit barren hillsides lethal mudslides and flooding occur. In May, Rwanda experienced flash floods and deadly landslides, causing over 100 deaths, damaging infrastructure and disrupting the livelihoods of thousands of people. 

Increasing access to clean cooking in rural areas where 95% of households rely on wood fuel remains one of the most impactful ways to slow down environmental degradation and transform lives. 

Our Live Well programme in Rwanda, The Gambia & Sierra Leone is providing high-quality improved cookstoves combined with the education and long-term support that ensures long term behaviour change, to all rural households, free of charge. The stoves cut wood use by 70% so deforestation caused by the harvesting of firewood is significantly reduced. 

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Rural Rwandan communities living around protected forests like Nyungwe Forest National Park and Volcanoes National Park, home to the endangered Mountain Gorillas, are beneficiaries of this programme: they appreciate the significant reduction in wood use and see the benefits this has for them and the local environment. Similar programme implementation is ongoing, with over 15,000 stoves provided around the savannah woodlands of Bo District in Sierra Leone and the mangrove swamps, valuable carbon sinks, in Lower River Region in The Gambia. 

Reducing firewood demand and air pollution in these communities is lessening the burden on natural resources and protecting wildlife habitats alongside improving families’ health. 

This week, we also celebrate a major Tubeho Neza “Live Well” milestone, the distribution of over 1.5 million stoves to rural households in Rwanda. By next year, on project completion, we will reach a total 2.3 million stoves and 64 square kilometres of forestry will be saved annually. 

To celebrate both occasions, today DelAgua hosted a special improved cookstove distribution event in Ngoma District, Rwanda. The distribution was attended by Nathalie Niyonagira, Mayor of Ngoma.

Speaking to stove recipients in Mvumba cell, Nathalie Niyonagira explained the effects of deforestation and the importance of clean cooking in preserving the environment. 

To find out more about how our Live Well programme is protecting the environment and safeguarding biodiversity watch our nature-based solutions video here.