La Lometa and Las Canitas are small rural communities in the mountains of the San Juan region in the Dominican Republic. To arrive at both communities, one must travel on dirt roads past a mixture of wood and cement houses that have access to electricity less than half of the day. Some of the homes have access to their own private water faucet but many share a public faucet. Additionally, families in these communities still cook indoors with traditional wood-burning cook stoves called fogones, the smoke from which causes respiratory problems such as asthma and chronic bronchitis. The community members have expressed an interest in and an understanding of the importance of cooking in a way that produces less harmful smoke, but they cannot sustainably afford to purchase propane for gas stoves. This project therefore aims to introduce improved cookstoves in 50 households to improve respiratory health, reduce the rate of deforestation in the community and surrounding areas, and alleviate the high economic pressures placed on families that cannot afford gas stoves.
In total, 55 improved cookstoves were constructed and the participating families were educated about the effects of deforestation and the risk of inhaled smoke, as well as provided with details on how to properly care for and use the cookstoves. In addition, eight women were trained on how to give presentations within the community about the care and benefits of improved cookstoves. They now form the core of a cookstoves committee, responsible for continued education and expansion of the cookstoves project.
“I am happy that I have received an improved cookstove. Now my back doesn’t hurt when I have to bend down to the ground to cook all day. I hope that my family members will suffer less from respiratory illnesses from smoke.” – Maria, Project Participant
“The Improved cookstoves have helped us a lot! My eyes are no longer bothered by the smoke that the old stove gave off. Although I never realized it before, my children were inhaling a lot of smoke from helping me cook. Now I see the difference in the kitchen.” – Clara Maria, Project Participant
“The women and children are not breathing in as much smoke in the kitchens. Women are more comfortable cooking. We will have more trees for our future as well.” – Cena, Project Leader