Preventing lung disease and preventing deforestation for firewood

July 31, 2017

Guatemala Placeholder

Preventing lung disease and preventing deforestation for firewood

About the Implementing organization

Name: Alianza Internacional de Reforestacion (AIRES)

Country: Guatemala

Year of establishment: 1993

Type of organization: Community-based association or organization, Legally recognized non-profit status, Community enterprise or business , Indigenous group or organization


Many non-profit organizations provide STOVES these days, but AIRES' stove solution is innovative in four important ways:
(1) Women Maya farmers requested the stoves as part of the farmer training many years ago, and AIRES listened. Currently, women participants decide who receives each stove in each group, and when.
(2) AIRES' stoves are only constructed with the Maya families as PART of the farmer training. They are not a separate gift, but are built after the tree nurseries are established, and the farmers have shown commitment to reforestation and new ways of farming.
(3) Thousands of Ilamo trees are planted in the community, specifically to be "topped off" for firewood without killing the trees. Also, much less firewood is needed because the stoves are so efficient-- see below.
(4) The DESIGN of these stoves was selected by the women, not by an outside non-profit. They were shown several options, including smaller and less expensive models, but the large stoves are preferred because of the spacious food preparation area and the stoves have chimneys and efficiency which means minimal smoke inside-- preventing lung disease and burns from open fires or grills.

Nature Element

Forests / Mountains

Type of Action

Restoration / Sustainable use / Awareness and education / Pollution prevention, clean up

Sustainable Development Element

Food security / Health / Climate action / Renewable energy

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)


Environmental Impacts

Environmental impacts of the stoves: CONSERVATION and Climate action:
* 860 stoves have been constructed for 860 extended Mayan families. Research on the stoves found that each stove uses less than half the amount of firewood as cooking over an open fire.
* AIRES technicians and volunteers have planted approximately 2 million Ilamo (aka Guatemalan Alder trees), which are extremely fast-growing and may be topped off for firewood without killing the tree. Therefore, the goal is that NO healthy trees are killed for firewood.
* The efficiency of the interior design means far less smoke is produced and released into the atmosphere-- alleviating carbon pollution. Cooking with fire is traditionally very important in Mayan culture and cooking with gas, etc. is expensive, unfamiliar, and also polluting. The efficient stoves, with fast-growing trees planted nearby, are a sustainable solution.
* Climate action - 5 million trees will sequester roughly 5 million tons of carbon.

Sustainable Development Impacts

 *Food Security - Sustainable Farming described above improves the nutrition of crops as farmers learn to plant more diverse crops in the same amount of space and to use trees for fertilizer and to prevent erosion. Again, the stoves are PART of the farmer training.
*Health - In the developing world, 8 times more people die from lung disease than from malaria, according to the USAID-- caused by daily cooking over open fires. In contrast, the AIRES stoves have chimneys to ventilate the harmful smoke AND produce far less smoke than open fires. They also are enclosed and prevent children from being burned, and the absence of smoke protects the eyes of the women and children in the kitchen.
* Renewable Energy - The Ilamo ("Guatemalan Alder") trees are a wonderful source of renewable energy, conveniently planted near the homes and crops of these Mayan families. When children no longer have to spend hours hunting for firewood, they can attend school!


In the AIRES model, the stoves are an important part of the Farmer Training-- not a stand alone project. Therefore, as noted in Solution 1, expansion of the stoves to a national scale would require Funding for MORE technicians who could reach more community groups throughout Guatemala with Farmer Training PLUS the efficient stoves. AIRES has expanded from about 180 communities throughout the Department of Chimaltenango, to approximately 20 communities in the Department of Solola; and recently to more communities in the poorest and most deforested Department of Guatemala-- Quiche.
AIRES is always looking for funding to hire and equip more Technicians to expand further.


AIRES has produced laminated, four-page diagrams of HOW to build an efficient brick & block stove-- materials may be found in the majority of the countries of the world, i.e., appropriate technology. The design sheets are available at a modest cost; however, an experienced bricklayer would still be needed for quality construction.

Please also see the answers above on Replicability. AIRES' would be grateful for a large grant to expand the entire model to other countries:
Indigenous Technicians + Farmer Training + Tree Nurseries + Efficient Stoves + Rural School Programs

The great success of the Model depends on all the parts being present-- not just stoves or trees. AIRES has been recognized by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland for having a replicable model. Now, they need the funding!

Share this solution:



Equator Blog

About Equator Initiative 

Contact Us

Follow Us: