Ecological Stoves in Panama

  • Health
  • Environment
  • Community Growth
  • Panama
This project is led by Rute Belachew, a Volunteer from Texas

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The local community's first "Ecological Stove" project seeks to bring more efficiency and reforestation to the community. The ecological stove group consists of ten families that wish to construct family stoves and out of the group, two individuals intend to build stoves for their separate churches. Each family is striving to plant at least 30 trees either around their homes or in their farms. The trees they will plant will be a mix of nitrogen fixer trees that they will later use for fire wood and trees that will provide fruits with easy to plant seeds such as oranges, limes etc.. With this long-term activity, the project requires group members to attend tree nursery workshops. As some of the family members are construction workers, they intend to construct each of the 12 stoves. For the construction of the stoves, the group is preparing to use what they can get from the community river for materials of the stoves. The group also plans to request assistance with transport from the community representative and the towns bus driver. This capacity building project aims to motivate the group to distribute the knowledge that they will gain to other community members and neighboring communities. By building their family and church stoves while participating in the reforestation of their homes, they will have an opportunity to learn more about the negative health consequences of traditional stoves and the necessity of being cognizant of their well-being along with the benefits of taking better care of their environment.

During our first community meeting, ecological stoves drove excitement and this project was voted on as a community project. For our first meeting, the local community created their agenda, decided how they wanted to continue and what projects they wish to contribute to the community. As we continued, the community group have constructed a list of materials that they can compile, share and where to look for the rest of materials as a group. As most of the men in the group are construction workers, they have played a role of creating a budget for each stove. The men in the group not only knew the price of each material but also are studying the construction of stoves. The community group has also shared similar views on the increase of deforestation and the importance to counter act that. For that reason, they choose reforestation as a secondary project and have been collecting and sharing their seeds. Along with that, each family has made a goal of planting 30 or more trees in the community.

The project is practicing sustainability as the members are building each stove and are participating in the process of soliciting for the materials they are unable to attain from the community. Each member of the group is also responsible of providing majority of the materials and for that reason they are knowledgeable of the materials needed and they are actively studying the construction of a stove. As this project is one that will be used almost daily, the beneficiaries are able to witness firsthand of the health and environmental benefits along with the personal benefits that an eco-stove brings. The community’s plan to sustain the benefits after the construction phase is not only active maintenance of the stoves but also continuing to reforest as they are using the trees that they plant as firewood.

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