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Transforming Maasai women’s lives with stoves and solar

The Maasai Stove and Solar Energy Project in Tanzania has been working with local Maasai communities in Tanzania to bring clean cookstoves and solar electricity to traditional mud and thatch huts. The project has been a resounding success in teaching Maasai women to build their own improved stoves - that cook quicker produce less smoke - using mostly local materials. It has also given some women an appetite for entrepreneurship; teaching other women how to construct stoves, offering repair services or even selling electricity produced by solar panels for charging the now ubiquitous mobile phones.
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The Maasai are a semi-nomadic people occupying large areas of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They once roamed freely over the plains of East Africa with their cattle and presented an iconic image of a proud, warrior lifestyle. Despite efforts to settle them, many still move around and choose to adhere to their age-old practices. The men engage in cattle-herding and roaming far afield, while the women and very young children keep the economy ticking over. The women preside over their traditional households, fetch water and firewood and traditionally cook food on three-stone hearths. Their houses are dark and filled with acrid smoke, causing respiratory problems for young and old alike.
 
With the installation of a clean stove and small solar panel the interior of the traditional house becomes transformed as do the lives of the women and children.
 
The project is now beginning to tackle the problem of providing clean drinking water using solar power.
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