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Technologies for Economic Development

ISILIE: Improved Stoves – Improved Livelihoods – Improved Environment


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Implemented by: Technologies for Economic Development (TED, Lesotho)
Funded by: GEF – SGP – UNDP, co-funded by communities in Qacha’s Nek, Quthing and Mafeteng Districts, ‘Africa’s Gift’ (UK) and TED

THE CHALLENGE: Almost 90% of energy consumption in Lesotho’s rural areas is sourced from biomass consisting of shrubs, fire wood, crop residues and animal waste. About 56% of all Basotho households use firewood for cooking, and about 67% use biomass for space heating1. The mountain grasslands are one of the world’s 20 mountain biodiversity “hotspots”2, but deforestation for firewood has devastating effects, such as soil erosion, destruction of wetlands, and overgrazing of rangeland3, further perpetuating the poverty cycle4. It is highly predictable that the woodlots and reserves of shrubs in higher altitude zones will soon be no longer available: the rate at which wood is harvested to fuel the traditional open cooking and heating practice is faster than the rate at which it grows.

The traditional open fire exhausts large amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) which contributes to global warming. In addition, one pound of fuel wood produces at least three times more heat when burned in an efficient stove than in an open fire.

THE GOAL:"Achieve improved livelihoods and an improved local and global environment through up-scaling the dissemination of fire wood saving energy efficient household stoves in rural areas in Lesotho." ISILIE works in line with the National Environmental Policy, Chapter 4.13 "Energy Resources", its objective "Provision of efficient, environmentally friendly energy usage strategy" and Strategy Nr. 4: "Promote the use of energy efficient stoves for the rural households".

Ashden Award winning EcoZoom Stoves improve the conditions under which food is prepared and houses (rondavels) are heated. Benefits reported by users include savings in the amount of firewood used, quick cooking, aesthetic appeal, retention of residual heat, a controllable fire, space heating, the possibility to use both charcoal and firewood alternatively in the same stove, portability, safety from burns and ability to boil water using small pieces of wood found in the yard.

COMMUNITIES care for land and environment, as emphasized in the “Lesotho Vision 2020” and the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS); with ISILIE they will increase their capacities to conserve the little resources the country still has. Community Stove Committees will sustain the benefits beyond the 24-month-period of the project.ISILIE creates opportunities for rural communities to engage in both the efficient use of biomass, and biodiversity conservation, thereby allowing the vegetative cover to regenerate. In the long run this will contribute to the mitigation of climate change impacts.

The three project communities Patlong, Malealea and Seforong encounter particular difficulties to grow trees or crops due to extremely degraded soils. Reforestation was already started by own initiative; however, they require assistance to obtain efficient technologies that will help conserve energy and save the remaining woodlots and soil holding shrubs.

In cooperation with village women groups the use of the improved cook stoves will be connected to tree planting activities of local varieties Cheche and Tšinabelo.

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