Blog: How Lorena Stoves are empowering people and reducing deforestation in Mbale

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Deforestation poses a huge environmental challenge in Uganda, with roughly 2% of its forest cover lost each year. To address this, the Mount Elgon Tree Growing Enterprise (METGE), a Size of Wales partner, is successfully rolling out energy-efficient stoves, alongside planting millions of trees and improving lives along the way.

Mbale in Eastern Uganda has suffered a massive loss of trees, which are used mainly in brick production and for cooking. METGE is engaging local communities by actively planting trees within the area and supporting the locals to construct energy-saving Lorena stoves, with an aim of installing 1,000 in 2021.

The stove is made primarily of clay, bricks, sand, and sawdust, all materials that are readily available. The two-pot rest stove has an efficient oven chamber, with a flue connecting outside to improve efficiency further. The flue also reduces smoke build-up within the kitchen, creating a healthier home to live in. The Lorena stove is a vast improvement on the traditional three-stone stoves often used by locals. It demands far less fuel consumption, is quicker, safer, and retains heat for much longer.

The traditional and inefficient three-stone stove vs A completed Lorena stove.

One grateful recipient of a Lorena stove is Alice Muduwa, who cares for 5 children in the Sironko District of Eastern Uganda. Alice lost her eyesight at the age of 17 and previously struggled cooking with open-flame fires. Now using the Lorena stove, she remarks, “It is easy for me to locate the stove, light it up, and prepare food for my family”. Alice now feeds her family throughout the day using the same amount of wood that would previously provide one meal, she no longer struggles with smoke from an open fire, and the stove remains warm for the return of her husband from work.

Due to the simplicity of the stove’s design and its use of locally accessible materials, the Lorena stove is an affordable alternative to expensive and high smoke-producing stoves. Alice explains, “Such projects make life easy for some of us with little hope of having access to modern cooking stoves because we cannot afford them”.

Alice and her energy-efficient Lorena stove

The Lorena stove roll-out is a great example of a multi-pronged approach to addressing climate change. Firstly, slowing down the rate of deforestation helps preserve Uganda’s natural ecosystems and prolongs its ability to support livelihoods. Secondly, creating smoke-free environments where residents can cook allows for a healthier lifestyle. Finally, the improved efficiency of stoves means less wood needs to be collected and time can be spent on other important tasks.

The Mbale Tree Programme aims to increase community resilience to the impacts of climate change through adaptation and mitigation. To learn more on how installing Lorena stoves supports these aims and objectives, click here.

Alice Muduwa in her own words on how a Lorena stove has helped her:

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