Just one of many community projects run or supported by La Mariposa this one involves the distribution of Eco cookers to the poorest families in the poorest communities in the area. The two objectives are, first, to reduce the use of firewood and thus limit deforestation and, second to reduce the health risk to women and their families caused by the use of open fires for cooking.
La Mariposa is close to the Masaya Volcano National Park which has a dramatic live crater surrounded by rare ecosystems including Pacific tropical forest. In Nicaragua rainforest is being felled at an alarming rate especially for logging precious wood and raising cattle. Even protected national parks are increasingly under threat, including the Masaya Volcano National Park.
Even firewood collection by poor families for their domestic use aggravates the problem.
The cookers are of a simple terracotta design, produced by a non-profit organisation in nearby Granada. Nearly all the Mariposa workers now have them, this distribution was mainly to families with disabled children.
Each cooker costs around 12$US but they are provided at no charge. The one requirement is that for every cooker provided two saplings are taken and planted in the local area to support reforestation. However right now it is the dry season so tree planting has to wait till later in the year.
When everyone had arrived Bismas, who leads walks in the National Park and knows a great deal about the trees made a presentation emphasising the importance to the Mariposa team, especially the founder, Paulette, of preventing further forest loss. He paid tribute to the Mariposa staff and students for running the project and those of us present were given a round of applause!
Next one of the project workers explained exactly how the cookers work and gave a list of do’s and don’t’s – start using it as soon as you get home today; use it in a well ventilated space near a door or window; don’t lift it by the pan supports; don’t keep moving it around.
If a stove leaks smoke from the sides it will be replaced free of charge, but only once, so it is important to look after them properly.
After that each household was presented with their new cooker and after another a round of applause, the tricky question of how to get them home was tackled – they are enormously heavy and were taken off in tuctucs, on motorbikes and in a hand cart. Wise women had brought along a husband or son to assist.