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The Nigerian Improved Cook Stove Program:

A 2007-2008 Wild Gift Project

A partnership between Linus Ita, Monica Samec, and the Mfaminyen, Mbeban, Ojok, Old Ndebiji, Nkame, and Ekang communities

The issue
he stove is very, very important to me before when I cooked, I would get sick. But with this one, I dont have such problems... Many people came and begged me to teach them how to do it, especially the Cameroonians! Since we are on the border, many Cameroonians people came and I taught them. I taught some how to make three fireplaces; I taught some how to make two fireplaces. So I just thank God.
~ Ojong Cecilia Cecilia was born in Cameroon but settled in Ekang, a Nigerian rainforest community, with her husband and four children. She rises at 4 a.m. every day. After praying, she starts a fire in a small dark hut to cook her family breakfast. As with every other woman in her village, Cecilia used the three stone cooking method, meaning a fire is built in the middle of three stones and a pot is placed on top of them. She dedicated hours to this every day, and still more hours carrying large bundles of wood on her head to use for the next days meals. The majority of Nigerias 140+ million people use wood for cooking. The traditional three stone method that most use results in unnecessary burdens for them, such as hauling large amounts of wood, enduring unhealthy amounts of smoke and heat, spending a long time waiting for the food to cook, and scrubbing off the soot deposited by the fire from their pots and kitchens. Improved cook stoves can address these problems, and provide an opportunity for the communities involved to take full part in developing and implementing solutions. Such simple, locally made technologies can decrease the amount of firewood people like Cecilia collect, lessen their exposure to soot and particulate matter, give a faster method of cooking, and reduce the time and money spent on charred pots. It is also an opportunity for them to become leaders in their community, teaching others a skill that they can benefit from while promoting forest conservation.

Image Credit: World Health Organization

Wild Gift Leadership Network PO Box 3064 Sun Valley, ID 83353, USA Mfaminyen Conservation Society PO Box 2839 Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria

The Project
The Mfaminyen Conservation Society (MCS) identified the need to create a practical, sustainable cooking option for the millions of Nigerian women like Cecilia. The importance of this need, across Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa, is reflected in both the number of people killed from indoor smoke from solid fuels and the alarming rates of deforestation, particularly in places of the rich biodiversity such as the area where the Mfaminyen Conservation Society works. The idea was first conceived with some of the women of Mfaminyen and from the desire to build on previous Mfaminyen conservation efforts. Consequently, Wild Gift recipient Monica Samec and MCS coordinator Linus Ita partnered to develop a program that would design and disseminate a cook stove appropriate for use in the Cross River State rainforest communities. The mission of this pilot project was to reduce the rural woman's energy burden and the impact of deforestation and climate change by identifying and promoting fuel efficient cook stove technology. The design, development, training and promotion of the stove were participant driven. By reviewing previous improved cook stove designs and developing his own from materials locally available in the community, Linus Ita, an Mfaminyen indigene, developed the design and named it the Ekwuk stove (meaning fireplace in the local language). The design was then discussed and tested among the women in the Mfaminyen community, and their suggestions and experience framed how the designs of the workshops and training manuals were finalized. Ekwuk stove construction workshops were offered to the Ekwuk stove design all communities in the Achan clan whose community leaders filed a request. The five communities that responded before the deadline were Mbeban, Ojok, Old Ndebiji, Nkame,and Ekang. In February, one-day practical workshops on how to build the stove were held in each of these communities in the language the group preferred. Two other communities outside the Achang clan requested workshops, Ajassor and Etomi in the Etung Local Government Area. After reviewing the initial evaluation results, Wild Gift agreed to support these training workshops as well and they were held in August.
Women of Mfaminyen giving suggestions on

Selected illustrations from The Ekwuk Stove Construction Manual Full publication available at

In order to cultivate leadership amongst participants, those who demonstrated motivation and skill in building the Ekwuk stove were invited to a Training of Trainers 3-day workshop and a few also employed as resource people for other workshops. A rough training video showing how to construct an Ekwuk stove was also shot and produced into a video CD (VCD) for general outreach.

Wild Gift Leadership Network PO Box 3064 Sun Valley, ID 83353, USA Mfaminyen Conservation Society PO Box 2839 Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria

The Impact
Five months after the workshops, over one hundred women and men who built and used the stoves were interviewed. Their feedback prompted a second edition of the training manual to be published. As well, VCDs of these interviews were made and distributed throughout the rainforest communities to increase the stature of both the stove and the people who use it. The interviews were complemented by a quantitative survey which found that the average Ekwuk stove saved at least 2610 lbs or 14 cubic meters of fire wood per year. A monitoring visit to all eight communities 14 months after the initial workshops estimated over 4500 Ekwuk stoves had been built. Roughly speaking, these stoves have the potential to reduce firewood usage and CO2 emissions by over 10,000 tons/year. However, the impact is perhaps best described by the stove users themselves:

The Ekwu stove which does not waste firewood, which makes me happy. With little firewood, I cook my food, the stove concentrates the heat, controls smoke, and does not dirty the pot... I told my friends the stove is good for my health I advise them to stop the use of the other one and adopt this one. - Eunince Ita Mbon

See my old stove; I used to blow the fire which caused me eye pains. The other wastes much firewood, but with the Ekwuk stove I use only a number of pieces. The smoke is directed away from me The stove is so good, no smoke to the eyes. No heat to the body. So let every home have one!
- Ojong Thomas Egbe

I dont use much firewood, unlike the old stove. I cook faster. The handles of the pot do not get burnt. Unlike the old stove, the smoke does not spread over my body A lot of my friends, even in neighbouring communities, were amazed at this stove. So they asked me to construct for them and I did I told them the Ekwuk stove is a better type of stove.
-Rose John Etta
Note: Stove users spoke in the language they preferred, which was translated into English by an independent translator. Wild Gift Leadership Network PO Box 3064 Sun Valley, ID 83353, USA Mfaminyen Conservation Society PO Box 2839 Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria

The stove is so good. If you dont have the power to break a log, you can just use sticks.
- Evelyn Ita

I have told my friends this stove is extremely good. I was the first to have this stove, but now about eight other people have built theirs. At first people were not interested, but now, everyone is craving one. The reason is they can see the benefits of the stove. In fact, every woman in the community is excited!
- Caroline Ndifon

The future
Due to the demonstrated success of the project, the Cross River State government has allocated approximately $100,000 of their annual budget for improved cook stoves and asked Linus Ita to write the concept note for implementation. Linus also continues to advocate for improved cook stoves as one of the founding members of a new West African improved cook stove network. Training manuals, VCDs and workshops continue to be made available through the Mfaminyen Conservation Society and their new website:

We gratefully acknowledge the support and guidance of Wild Gift, whose flexibility and understanding allowed the project to be executed far more effectively than most donor projects, and more importantly, established a solid foundation on which to build both the program and the organization. We would like to thank the leaders of the Mfaminyen, Mbeban, Ojok, Old Ndebiji, Nkame, and Ekang communities for their support of this project. Editi Effiong volunteered his time and talents in website design to give Mfaminyen a voice on the internet. Finally, much appreciation and respect goes to all the Ekwuk stove users and promoters who no doubt will continue to improve the design and reach of the program, and will continue to be the reason for the projects success. Linus M. Ita
Coordinator Mfaminyen Conservation Society

Monica Samec
Member Wild Gift Leadership Network
Wild Gift Leadership Network PO Box 3064 Sun Valley, ID 83353, USA Mfaminyen Conservation Society PO Box 2839 Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria