Epidemiological research demonstrates that the two leading causes of mortality in our partner communities in Guatemala are upper respiratory infections and waterborne contaminants. For children under five, respiratory illness is the leading cause of death (WHO). These are both linked to the practice of cooking on open pit fires in tiny, unventilated homes.
Stoves built by HSP service-learning partners channel the thick smoke from cooking fires out of the unventilated brick dwellings via a new chimney installed with each stove. The size of the stove is large enough that its stovetop can fit many items at once, making it ideal to be able to provide for large rural families and warm their space. In addition, the stoves are significantly more fuel-efficient, thus decreasing the amount of money women must spend on cooking fuel. Because the stoves consume much less wood than the open pit fires previously used, they decrease the amount of deforestation regionally. Additionally, for every stove built by volunteers, 10 trees are planted in the neighboring forests.
Each year a family can easily spend most of its income treating lung infections caused by smoke exposure. Furthermore, the primary cause of fatality in recent natural catastrophes in Central America has been mudslides linked directly to deforestation by the ravenous demand for cooking fuel.