Respiratory illness and maladies associated with open-flame cook stoves are a major health issue in Cameroon. A new, smoke-free cook stove has been developed and utilized in some communities in Cameroon, and has proven very successful. In homes that have implemented this new smoke-free stove, levels of carbon monoxide and particulate matter have been decreased by over 90%, to WHO approved levels. As a result, morbidity and mortality rates attributed to respiratory disease have been greatly reduced in these communities. It is estimated that for every 15 stoves put into practice, a child is saved. Furthermore, because the new stove uses less wood, less time is required to gather firewood, and women are granted more free time during their week to pursue other activities. Additionally, less trees being consumed for cook-fires helps to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Women in the community will be trained to construct and maintain these smoke-free stoves at the health center. They will then be in charge of identifying other community members who wish to have the new stove, and subsequently will construct the stoves in their homes and conduct follow-up visits to ensure proper maintenance. This will benefit the overall level of health and will also provide an opportunity for women empowerment, since men are the primary financial holders. Also, because women are generally the ones spending many hours cooking over the open-flame stoves every day, this will allow them to better their own health and livelihoods. This project will provide the women another source of income, simultaneously stimulating the economy of the whole village.