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Traditional wood-burning stoves in rural Nicaraguan households have a devastating effect on the environment and on women's health. Trees are cut down for firewood, and smoke from these stoves causes eye and respiratory infections as well as asthma.
Nicaragua has lost 50% of its forest cover since 1950. Deforestation further exacerbates Nicaragua's water crisis by reducing rainfall, rainwater infiltration and aquifer recharge rates, as well as causing soil erosion and deadly landslides. Indoor air pollution caused by smoky woodburning stoves is as detrimental to health as smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day.
- Conserve and protect the water tables that supply the wells that communities have built.
- Improve the quality of women and children's health through the construction of improved stoves that remove hazardous smoke from the kitchens resulting in less eye irritation and lung infections.
Families who have been very active in their local reforestation program are eligible to construct fuel-efficient stoves in their homes, which reduce by 60% the firewood needed to cook meals and eliminate indoor smoke. The stove is concrete box with a chimney. The concrete absorbs less heat than traditional stoves and because it is an enclosed firebox, less heat escapes which reduces the amount of wood used in cooking. Each stove has a chimney that releases the smoke outside of the home.