By Angela Cacciola -- On any given night, volunteers walking back to the blueEnergy house from their days’ work greet Yessenia Rodriguez who cooks and sells customary dishes from her front porch. Like many other women born and raised in Bluefields, Nicaragua, Yessenia falls into the traditional gender role of cook and mother. She supports her large family with the small amount of money she works hard to make. However, unlike many of her female counterparts, Yessenia now uses the ecostove she purchased from blueEnergy to do her cooking. “It is the best I’ve ever had,” Yessenia raves “It is very advantageous for people here, if they can have them. The stove is hot, but I can stand next to it, because the heat is contained.”
|blueEnergy volunteer, Gabriella LaRocca,|
explains the proper use of the ecostove to Yessenia
A 33-year-old single mom with five children ages three to eighteen, Yessenia provides for the eight people living in her house. Although she only purchased her stove in May of this year, she has been selling various dishes, including fried chicken, enchiladas, tacos, and tajadas (fried banana chips) for two years. Yessenia likes living in Bluefields, but she is trying to find work in other areas. “Life is difficult here,” she comments, and this fact is quickly apparent by the lack of economy and ensuing safety issues in the community.
The primary source of fuel in Bluefields and on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua, charcoal is mainly used for heating stoves because it is cheap and readily available. However, the industry places a big strain on the local almendra trees. As immediate resources are depleted, people go further into the national forest reserve to cut down these ancient, towering giants. Once the trees are buried and burnt, they scrape out the charcoal and leave everything else behind. The charcoal sells at almost four dollars a sack.
|Yessenia's old, inefficient stove.|
Like most new technology, successful adaptation of environmentally friendly ecostoves that would reduce the charcoal market must be economically favorable to its consumers, and Yessenia is no exception. Despite her situation, she makes the best of what she has. Fortunately, her ecostove saves her more than $13 a month, a significant amount of money in a region where salaries are highly subsidized by remittances from family members working abroad. Now when Yessenia cooks, she has to use half the amount of oil in the pan as she did before. Additionally, her new stove is "very, very economic because it doesn't use a lot of charcoal. Yessenia now buys just one sack of charcoal per month, as compared to the one sack per week she purchased when using her old stove. Even on such a small scale, blueEnergy's efforts work toward its mission of a more equitable and sustainable world.
Ecostoves were initially designed and manufactured by Proleña, a blueEnergy partner and NGO in Managua, Nicaragua. The charcoal-burning adaptation has been distributed by blueEnergy in Bluefields, Nicaragua. It lasts three to five years, significantly longer than its competition which last roughly six months. Its efficiency undoubtedly drastically improves the quality of womens’ lives and can reduce deforestation and carbon emissions. If you are interested in getting more involved and supporting the purchase of a cook stove so that blueEnergy can help many more Yessenia’s, please click HERE.