To help address the environmental and health problems caused by cooking on firewood and charcoal, a group of dedicated doñas (this is a respectful reference to older women) and I decided to build improved cookstoves in my community. These stoves have an enclosed cooking chamber that burns firewood more efficiently than cooking out in the open. The fire inside the stove heats up two hot plates, so Dominican women can still cook their daily pots of rice and beans, but unlike an open fire, these stoves have chimneys that take smoke away from the cook.
Also, the improved cookstoves reduce the use of charcoal by rural families, because the stoves work best when dry firewood is used. Less charcoal use means that more trees in my community can remain standing!
- Peace Corps Community Economic Development Volunteer Courtney Columbus on the EPA blog