One third of the world’s population still uses open fires for cooking with wood or coal. This practice leads to deforestation, financial expenses and back-breaking labor for those responsible for collecting the wood. The amount of smoke inhaled by indoor open fires is also the cause of 3.5 to 4 million deaths every year.
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo's Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership (MBP) is working to reduce the pressures that fuel wood puts upon animal habitat from deforestation and the health and time sacrifices of Malagasy communities. The MBP has provided training for the construction and use of fuel-efficient rocket stoves for several areas of Madagascar. Rocket stoves reduce household firewood requirements and cook a traditional Malagasy meal much quicker than an open fire. Through the promotion of new cultivation practices, the use of rocket stoves could also reduce dependence on slash-and-burn agriculture.
Along with the rocket stoves, the MBP has developed biofuel briquettes that can be burned in the stoves. The briquettes provide an alternative to charcoal and firewood as they burn cleaner and require less wood than the more traditional fuel sources. The use of these stoves for daily cooking would greatly improve the lives of Malagasy community members and also help Madagascar's rare animal biodiversity by preserving remaining habitat through the reduction of deforestation for fuel wood and charcoal.
- In developing nations today, 76% of wood cut is used for cooking and heating fuel.
- About 10-20% of a Malagasy’s income goes toward fuel expenses.
- A “Rocket Stove” uses 1/3 of the amount of wood a traditional open fire uses, even less if used with a fuel briquette made of scraps like sawdust.
- Lessening the pressure on the forest created by the cutting of wood for fuel would dramatically increase the survival rate of endangered species.