Central America’s new clean cookstove program

November 13, 2013

Nicaragua and Honduras are going green with a new clean cookstove program supported by Hivos.

Cooking is an everyday necessity and task the world over, but in many developing countries this simple activity can bring serious health hazards because of the soot and smoke caused by cooking with firewood. This leads to 2 million deaths a year, affecting mostly women and children who are often closest to the fires. Furthermore, collecting wood from forests increases deforestation, thus contributing to climate change with fewer and fewer trees to absorb carbon emissions.

Nicaragua and Honduras are no different from other countries in this respect. For this reason, Hivos has set up a program which aims to tackle the problem head on by providing efficient and clean cookstoves to poor and rural households. Efficient cookstoves require much less firewood and save people time and money they would otherwise spend collecting or buying it. The program, called ‘The Sustainable Energy Access Fund for Poverty Reduction in Central America’ (FOCAEP), is the first pro-poor energy fund in the region. The aim is to stimulate a market for renewable energy technologies in Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala for rural and poor households.

The lead donor and co-implementer of FOCAEP is the Energized Development Program (EnDev), implemented by the German Society for International Corporation (GIZ) for Phase I (2013 – 2016). The program started in August 2013 and will first work to develop a market for efficient and clean cookstoves in Nicaragua and Honduras. Its activities will focus on strengthening entrepreneurs who produce and distribute cookstoves, improving access to clean cookstoves by supporting MFIs or banks to provide loans for cookstoves, and promoting an enabling environment, for example by creating facilities to test cookstove efficiency and encourage transparent information about the quality of cookstoves. In addition, the program will support initiatives to plant trees for firewood.

FOCAEP’s target is to enable 50,000 households to purchase efficient and clean cookstoves by 2016 in Nicaragua and Honduras. Guatemala will join the program later, in Phase II.