Aidex Voices

Based in Nairobi, EcoZoom is a social enterprise that makes solar products and eco-friendly, sustainable cook stoves accessible and affordable to people worldwide. They will be showcasing their cook stoves at AidEx Nairobi this September.

The EcoZoom stove means that an average African family can eliminate kerosene for lighting and can reduce spending on cooking fuel by up to 70%. It can also heavily reduce the CO2 output resulting in fewer natural resources being depleted as over 30 trees are saved over the lifetime of one cook stove.

Case study: Relief International project in Somalia 2014

Amid repeated failure to address safe access to firewood and alternative energy, internally displaced populations across Somalia have seen increased insecurity and have been deprived of safe access to cooking. 83% of households interviewed by Relief International use open spaces to cook, balancing their pots on three stones over a wood fire. 67% emphasised burns from firewood and food spills as the most serious health hazards when cooking on three stones.

Against a backdrop of armed conflict in Somalia, women and girls are at further risk of gender-based violence because they are the primary firewood collectors; for 60% of women in Mogadishu and 92% in Galkayo, rape is a major risk of safety during firewood collection. 82% reported having to walk an average of 4.5km twice a day in order to collect firewood making the three stone fire an inefficient technique and associated with the increased risk of gender-based violence amongst Somali women. Women have to spend more time and travel greater distances to collect firewood because of the need for more firewood collection and this in turn increases their exposure to rape. Militiamen are notorious for using knives and machetes to steal the wood off women’s backs.

To address this issue, Relief International with support from UNICEF piloted a project to introduce and promote fuel efficient EcoZoom stoves amongst internally displaced populations (IDPs) residing in camps in Mogadishu, Galkayo and Afgooye.

Major outcomes of the project include positive environmental effects, a reduction of fuel consumption, and most importantly a reduction in the risk of gender-based violence towards women and girls. The EcoZoom stoves also helped to reduce tensions between IDP and host communities who compete for the scarce resources of wood and coal.

Amina is one of the 20,000 women to have received a stove reducing her vulnerability to gender based violence. She said: “I really like the new stoves with less wood. I can collect small pieces of wood close to home, and I avoid the militiamen who harass us. I can cook everything on it. Thank God I don’t have to collect firewood like I used to.”   

An estimated 130,000 women in Somalia still require fuel efficient stoves to reduce their risk to gender-based violence. But it is good to see EcoZoom helping Relief International to implement the positive work it is doing so far.

EcoZoom has worked extensively in conjunction with NGO’s including the Red Cross (ICRC), World Food Programme (WFP) and Relief International in order to support aid efforts. They have also helped to provide cook stoves worldwide in conjunction with governments in Nigera, Mexico and Papa New Guinea.