Seeing high rates of combatable respiratory illness within the community of Rancho Grande, Nicaragua, Ohio State’s chapter of Project Nicaragua embarked in the winter of 2015 in implementing a clean-cookstove project with the help of ONIL.
Our initial pilot program consisted of installing a total of nine stoves within various family homes in the community. Participating families were enrolled in a longitudinal study to ensure the efficacy of the program, with surveys regarding fuel expenses and respiratory health taken across time. They were also briefed on how to properly care for their stoves and given educational brochures for reference.
These stoves represented a marked change from the traditional open fires used to cook in rural Nicaragua. Typically, cooking was done inside or just outside of the home on these open fires, however concerning reports of high rates of respiratory illness and children falling into the fire led to this collaborative alternative.
The ONIL stoves used by members of the community capitalize on a contained-fire design which directs smoke out of the house through a chimney. Additionally, the use of a stovetop design helps with the prevention of burns, while also increasing the efficiency of cooking. Finally, these stoves have proven more energy efficient, reducing the amount of wood consumed by families.
Given the promising success of this program, Project Nicaragua at Ohio State further received funding through a partnership with HELPS International allowing the program to expand via installation of twenty more stoves in Rancho Grande. These grants allowed Project Nicaragua to further subsidize the cost incurred by families.
While we have seen great promise in this project, the Nicaraguan Civil Crisis which spanned from 2018-2019 briefly put these efforts on hold due to the inability to visit and conduct installations. Despite these challenges, past Project Nicaragua teams worked alongside engineering faculty of The Ohio State University to create a clean-cookstove prototype that could be assembled solely using materials found in the immediate Rancho Grande vicinity. Designed with the environment and culture of Nicaragua in mind, this new design represents the future direction of our clean-cookstove initiative.
Project Nicaragua at Ohio State hopes to begin implementing this new design in the coming years.