Indoor Cooking Fires - A global conservation and human crisis
- It is now recognized that unvented indoor cooking fires are used by a staggering 3 billion people worldwide!
- Smoke from indoor cooking fires is now the largest environmental killer of people in the world.
- Injuries and serious burns, primarily in small children are ubiquitous.
- Rural cook fires are a leading contributor in CO2 release and climate affects associated with black carbon.
- Improved stoves may well be the least expensive way of addressing significant portions of pollution contributing to climate change.
- Fuel wood harvesting is second to expanding agriculture in its role in deforestation and watershed loss and therefore figures in significantly to the deaths associated with unclean water.
- Loss of habitat is the single leading cause of species extinction and resource loss.
- The combined losses due to fuel wood harvest and unproductive rural agriculture have profound impacts in primarily underserved communities and endangered species but trickle down to all of us in their impacts.
One community at a time – ECOLIFE plans to bring integrated solutions to East Africa to address this crisis.
Location facts for Bwindi/Buhoma
- The majority of the people of the area around
Bwindi are from the Bakiga, Bafumbira or Batwa cultures in Uganda.
Collectively, they are some of the poorest people in the world with a high
mortality rate and low life expectancy.
- Uganda has lost nearly 80% of its forest
since the 1960’s and this has had a profound impact on the cultures that
have depended on it.
- Our work will also have a profound impact on
the mountain gorilla – one of the world’s most charismatic vertebrates.
- The Bwindi Impenetrable Forest where we work
is home to more than half of the entire remaining population of gorillas.
- The communities of Bwindi and Buhoma where
ECOLIFE work abut directly to the Impenetrable Forest with absolutely NO
buffer zone between humans and the gorillas.
ECOLIFE's Solutions for these communities
- ECOLIFE proposes to go into these two
communities and build a safe, fuel-efficient stove in every single home
(approximately 400 homes). This
will improve health and quality of life for every single member of
these two communities.
- We will simultaneously expand the existing
aquaponics unit we are already operating in Bwindi to make it a more
viable and valuable community asset.
- Our team of ECOLIFE staff and volunteers will
go and train stove builders in Bwindi and Buhoma and power into this work
- This will be the culmination of three years
of community partnerships that include a Ugandan NGO – Conservation
Through Public Health (CTPH) and ECOLIFE.
Thanks to our team in Uganda interviews and workshops have been
completed and people want the stoves and are ready for this to happen.
- When it is done every home abutting the
Bwindi Impenetrable forest from the Ugandan side will have reduced its
impact on the forest in terms of fuel use.
A new more efficient form of agriculture (aquaponics) will be
introduced - both of these things reducing pressure on the forest.
- Additionally, the improvement of having
vented stoves for cooking will have a profound health impact on the
community in reduced respiratory ailments and dozens of other diseases
including AIDS which take advantage of the their generally poor
- This directly
benefits the gorilla community as well – our close cousins unfortunately
are prone to many of our diseases and vice-versa, so now with improved
human health and a safe forest the gorillas are a direct beneficiary.
Eye to Eye with Gorillas
Nearly half of the remaining population of mountain gorillas is found in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest of Uganda. Visually there is a clear line between the forest and the rural agriculture of one of the poorest and most densely populated areas in Uganda. In reality, the line is not so clear. People and livestock wander into the forest in search of resources like fuel wood and food, while gorilla families are known to raid the crops at the near the edge of the forest.
Our in-country collaborator is a group called Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) that is working to balance the health of both people and gorillas of the area. Reducing the interactions between people and great apes reduces the possibilities of disease transmission. CTPH volunteers from within the communities teach about disease transmission and livestock and crop management, as well as family planning and sexual health.
Thanks to CTPH, and generous gifts from the Disney's Friends for Change and Shultz Steel, we are able to bring a host of resources’ to this important community on the border of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
Thank you to our generous program sponsors
We joined Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka from CTPH (Conservation Through Public Health) to trek into the forest to visit a troop of endangered mountain gorillas. According to gorilla researchers, we were fortunate enough to have a short walk of only an hour and a half uphill steep climb before finding the troop. Our time with the gorillas was special and we did not want it to end. Apparently, the gorillas felt the same. As we turned to leave, a gorilla came from behind and took hold of my shirt. Humans and gorillas in such close proximity underlined the issue of human wildlife contact and health, while also leaving me with a special memory.