Air Pollution in Kenya

Air Pollution in Kenya

Sr. Prisca Ovat, MMM, working in Kenya, shares her passion of caring for our earth and how she is trying to make changes among the people she lives and works within Eldoret.

“In our desire to curb climate change and care for our earth, here in Eldoret, we empower our 27 community health volunteers with a health topic every month they gather to submit reports. This month we focused on air pollution, how each of us contributes in small or big ways to climate change, and what we can do differently.

As I move around the 11 communities in our catchment area which are predominantly slums, I observe that most families living in either a thatched or iron sheet hut cook inside while children are asleep. They inhale the smoke, and all of this has affects on their health. So together with the volunteers, we walk around these villages every day of the week, gathering families and educating them on the impact of air pollution. Each month we choose a different topic.”

(As we spoke, we made the connections with the EARTHSHOT Prize 2022). Growing up in Mukuru, one of Nairobi’s largest slums, for years Charlot Magayi sold charcoal for fuel. That charcoal was the cause of respiratory infections for her and her neighbours. Then, in 2012, her daughter was severely burnt by a charcoal-burning stove. Seeking a better solution, in 2017 she founded Mukuru Clean Stoves.

Rather than burning dangerous solid fuels, Mukuru Clean Stoves use processed biomass made from charcoal, wood and sugarcane. This burns cleaner, creating 90 percent less pollution than an open fire and 70 percent less than a traditional cookstove. They are cheaper too, costing just $10 and halving ongoing fuel costs.

Today, 200,000 people in Kenya use Mukuru Clean Stoves, saving $10 million in fuel costs and saving lives too. In rural areas, where young girls often spend three hours a day collecting firewood, they also save precious time. A female-founded business with mostly female staff and distribution agents, Mukuru Clean Stoves is empowering women to make a living by making a difference. Magayi plans to create an even cleaner stove that burns ethanol.  In three years, she hopes to reach one million customers. In ten years, she plans to reach ten million people all over Africa.