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Jun 282011

By Brett Kessler
Green Right Now

For women in Kenya, cooking over an open fire means long hours spent in smoke-filled huts – the equivalent of smoking forty cigarettes a day. It’s not exactly the image that comes to mind when we think of the hearth, but it’s a reality for about 3 billion people in developing countries around the world, and one devoid of the romance we associate with Boy Scout campfires and “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.”

Greg and Gumato in Kenya

Open fire cooking is linked to pneumonia-related deaths and increased carbon emissions, and, because women often have to walk miles to collect wood, helps sustain patriarchal systems by denying women the time to engage in other work.

The Paradigm Project, founded in 2009 by Neil Bellefeuille and Greg Spencer, has launched an initiative to combat this problem. Dubbed “Profit for the Poor,” it’s a program that brings clean, fuel-efficient “Rocket Stoves” to women in developing countries such as Kenya with the goal of creating a sustainable, triple bottom line enterprise that serves donors, investors, and communities.

How does it generate profit? The reduction in emissions produces carbon credits, which are sold through European and American markets. This creates what the Paradigm Project calls a “self sustaining mechanism that ultimately eliminates the need for continued outside funding.” The end result is not just a return for investors but also a progressive new model that saves time and resources and slashes emissions by 40% to 60%.

If you want to learn more, check out Stove Man, the Paradigm Project web series that began today, and will release installments weekly over the next month. It  follows two young activists – Greg Spencer and Austin Mann – on a journey to bring fuel-efficient stoves to developing areas around the world. Watch the first episode here.

Episode 1: Woodwalk from The Paradigm Project on Vimeo.

In the first episode, Austin and Greg walk all day collecting wood with a group of Gabbra women from Northern Kenya.

Cook stove pollution not only jeopardizes the health of women in developing regions, it is responsible for deforestation of countries like Kenya, which loses 100 million trees annually, according to the Paradigm Project.

Such pollution by the rural poor has been blamed for 25% of global CO2 emissions, more than all global transportation-related emissions combined.

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