Some of the most prevalent yet preventable illnesses in rural Nicaragua are respiratory diseases. To address this challenge, Comunidad Connect’s improved technology clean cookstoves can greatly improve household health.
These projects, earned by accumulating volunteer hours in the community, are built by beneficiary families, volunteers, and local masons. Not only do these stoves use less wood and save a family money, but they also have the following health benefits:
- Decrease indoor air pollution from smoke using chimneys
- Prevent chronic illnesses such as respiratory disease, pneumonia, and low birth weight
- Increase satisfaction with housing and quality of life
Take a look below to see how these stoves are built step-by-step!
Meet Don Tingo, a mason who lives in Los Robles and helps makes building these stoves possible. Before any construction can begin, Don Tingo pre-fabricates the “burners” with rebar and concrete. One of the burners must have a hole for the chimney, as you can see in the image.
When the time comes to begin construction, the mortar mixture (used to hold the stove bricks together) must be prepared. The simple recipe consists of combing dirt and cow manure with water that has been soaked in dragon fruit leaves. The dragon fruit is sticky and acts as a natural binder. And don’t worry, the cow manure doesn’t smell at all.
While the mortar mixture is being prepared, Don Tingo will lay the first layer of bricks, as these measurements are the most important to the structural integrity of the stove. Once completed, volunteers and the beneficiary family can take over laying bricks, stacking several layers high.
After Don Tingo’s approval of the group’s work, he will lay the burners into place. In the picture above, you will notice one side is higher than the other. This is to create an uneven distribution of heat, allowing one burner to heat up and cook food quickly and the other to function as a warmer.
With the burners set in place, Don Tingo climbs to the roof of the house to install the chimney. Most of the time he has to cut a hole in the zinc roof or rearrange some shingles.
From the inside, the stove is really starting to come together. With a little bit of concrete to seal the chimney in place, it will be ready to dry. Taking only about a day to set, the beneficiary family can begin cooking very quickly after receiving a project.
And there you have it! In only 2 to 3 hours, volunteers have an amazing experience, make some new friends and significantly impact a family’s health for years to come.