Gaia Association


The overwhelming dependence of the household sector on traditional fuels (biomass) and kerosene for cooking is having a hugely negative impact on health, the environment and the economy in Ethiopia. Greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation associated with harvesting biomass for cooking, is contributing to climate change and environmental degradation. Moreover, indoor air pollution from the burning of traditional fuels indoors causes numerous serious health problems for those exposed – in most cases, women and children. Ethiopian families cook using these fuels because they are left without alternatives. Gaia Association, an Ethiopian NGO, and its partners are working to increase access to ethanol fuelled cooking stoves for households at all income levels. Adoption of this alternative clean cooking technology has been shown to address the health, environmental and socioeconomic problems associated with heavy reliance on traditional cooking fuels. Since 2004, Gaia Association, an Ethiopian NGO, has been promoting ethanol and ethanol fuelled cooking stoves as an alternative to existing traditional cooking technology. The stove chosen for promotion is known as the CleanCook stove, a modified version of the Origo stove by Dometic AB, a Swedish company. An extensive pilot test in Addis Ababa demonstrated the safety, efficiency and user-friendliness of the stove, as well as the participating household’s willingness to switch to ethanol for all of their cooking needs. The stoves are currently imported from Europe but Gaia Association has identified a local partner, Makobu Enterprises, to lead the commercialisation and local manufacture of the stoves. A business plan sponsored by the UNDP’s Growing Sustainable Business Program was recently drafted as a guide for this process and funding for the business scale up supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). It is estimated that local manufacture and distribution of the stoves will begin as early as 2008. In Ethiopia, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has already embraced the CC stove as a tool for humanitarian relief in Kebribeyah refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia. There, the stove has had a hugely positive impact on the lives of refugees who previously had relied exclusively on gathered fuelwood for their cooking needs. The search for fuelwood is fraught with danger as women and girls risk attack and rape every time they leave the camp. Moreover, the harvesting of fuelwood has had a devastating impact on the natural environment and triggered violent conflict between the settled and refugee communities competing for these scarce resources. These 850 stoves have displaced fuelwood by 95 to 100% and reduced GHG emissions by 850 tonnes, based upon the displacement of gases other than CO2 alone.

Organization Type Non-Governmental Organization

Contact Information

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Primary Initiatives, Target Populations, and Scope of Work:

Gaia Association is an Ethiopian Registered NGO working to provide access to locally produced ethanol and ethanol fuelled cooking stoves for Ethiopian households. We are currently implementing a stove program at Kebribeyah refugee camp, a UNHCR run camp in eastern Ethiopia where 1000 stoves have been provided to 1000 families. In tandem to this, we are working with an Ethiopian enterprise to create a stove and fuel business in Ethiopia. With assistance from USEPA and UNDP, the ethanol stove and fuel initiative is now on the verge of commercialisation with local stove manufacture set to commence early in 2008. Gaia Association is working closely with the municipal government of Addis Ababa to establish an infrastructure for supplying locally produced stoves and ethanol to new public housing developments in the city. We are also collaborating with a community based development group, the Good Shepherd Sisters Centre to establish a cooperative led ethanol business in a low income neighbourhood in Addis Ababa.

Fuels/Technologies: Alcohol Fuels
Sectors of Experience: Energy
Renewable Energy
Indoor air quality monitoring, comparative stove and fuel testing and reporting
Countries of Operation: Ethiopia

Our Experience And Interest In The Four PCIA Central Focus Areas

Social/Cultural barriers to using traditional fuels and stoves:

Gaia Association recognizes the need to consider social and cultural issues related to fuel use and this has been strongly reflected in our work in Ethiopia. At every stage throughout our pilot study, participating households were consulted on stove design and were asked to suggest modifications based on their cooking requirements. These suggestions were incorporated into design modifications to the stove to better suit the needs of the target populations. In the refugee camps, social and cultural issues have played a significant role in how the program has evolved. For example, we are now focusing our efforts on supplying the camps in eastern Ethiopia because the Somali refugees there can use the CC stove to bake their traditional injera (flat bread), and the stoves have the potential to displcace 100% of the gathered fuelwood.

Market development for improved cooking technologies:

The pilot study phase came to a close in 2006 and Gaia Association has, since then, been working to make the CC stove commercially sustainable in Ethiopia. The stoves are currently imported from Europe, but Gaia Association has identified a local partner, Makobu Enterprises PLC, to lead the commercialisationa and local manufacture of the stoves. In late 2006, Gaia Association and Makobu Enterprises PLC, with some assistance from UNDP under the Growing Sustainable Business Program, hired a consultant to draft a business plan for the commercialization of the stove and ethanol in Ethiopia. the business plan, which relies on data gathered during the pilot study, analyses the potential markets for the stove, as well as the various financing options available to support the business in the initial stages. The first market to be targeted by the fuel and stove business will be the newly constructed public housing developments in Addis Ababa. Gaia Association and Makobu Enterprises have formed a partnership with the Municipal Government of Addis Ababa and plans are in place for the installation of stoves in 2,000 new public housing apartments in 2008. In May, 2007, Gaia Association received funding from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), to scale up the commercial effort in Ethiopia. With this assistance, a local production line has been developed and stove bodies will be in production in 2008.

Technology standardization for cooking, heating and ventilation:

The CC stove is an adaptation of a stove that has been thoroughly consumer tested and on the market in developed countries for more than 20 years. Precisely the same technology is currently in use in Ethiopia. The technology is now in the process of being transferred from Dometic AB, the Swedish manufacturer to our local partner, Makobu Enterprises PLC. This process is being handled carefully in order to ensure the maintenance of quality and standards at the local level. An agreement to this effect has been signed between Dometic AB and Makobu Enterprises. In the coming months, a technical expert from the European stove factory will visit the production site in Addis Ababa to provide input and advice on the set up of the production line.

Indoor air pollution exposure and health monitoring:

In tandem with the stove and fuel consumer acceptance studies, Gaia Association began an air quality monitoring program in June, 2005. Levels of Particulate Matter (PM) and Carbon Monoxide (CO) were monitored in sample of households in Addis Ababa, and in two of the refugee camps, both prior to, and following the introduction of the CC stoves. These studies were conducted under the guidance of CEIHD, and data were gathered using specialised air monitoring equipment. The studies demonstrated the positive impact of the ethanol-burning CC stove on indoor air quality with levels of PM and CO significantly reduced in all test homes. In March, 2007, Gaia Association received an award from PCIA in recognition of its commitment to increasing awareness about the dangers of indoor air pollution. Gaia Association is tentatively planning to conduct a health study on a sample of households in Addis Ababa in 2008.

Relevant Publications or Studies

O’Brien, 2006, Introducing Alcohol Stoves to Refugee Communities; a Case Study from Kebribeyah, Ethiopia. Boiling Point No. 32, p 16. Lambe, and Mengesha, April, 2007, Ethanol Stoves as a Humanitarian Tool: the Gaia Association’s Clean Energy-Safe Energy Program, Kebribeyah Refugee Camp, Eastern Ethiopia, PCIA Bulleting 11, April 2007, p. 8. Indoor Air Pollution Monitoring Summary:The Gaia Association CleanCook Stove Tests in the Kebribeyah Refugee Camp,Somali Regional State, Ethiopia Center for Entrepreneurship in International Health and Development, School of Public Health, University of California-Berkeley and The Gaia Association 07 March 2007 UNHCR Kebribeyah Refugee Camp Project Report: ON STARTING THE SCALE UP OF STOVES AND ETHANOL DISTRIBUTION July 9 – 16, 2006 Milkyas Debebe, Firehiwot Mengesha, Todd Wofchuck, Gaia Association Project Gaia Research Studies, July 18, 2006 Bonga Narrative Survey Report Bonga UNHCR Resettlement Camp, Ethiopia Firehiwot Mengesha and Wubshet Tadele, Gaia Association, January 2007 O’Brien, Cheryl, October, 2005, UNHCR Kebribeyah Camp Report An Ethanol-fueled Household Energy Initiative in the Shimelba Refugee Camp, Tigray, Ethiopia: A Joint Study by the UNHCR and the Gaia Association Amare G/Egziabher, Ph.D., Environmental Officer,UNHCR-RLO James Murren and Cheryl O’Brien, Gaia Association 20 January 2006

Our Contribution to the Partnership

The Gaia team is always eager to share updates, progress reports and experiences with all partners and we are happy to supply reports and articles for circulation and publication. Our skilled team of project coordinators has received thorough training on all aspects of indoor air quality monitoring and has extensive experience in IAP data collection and analysis in a variety of settings in Ethiopia. Our team is willing to share this experience with other partner groups and provide guidance and assistance with the design and execution of IAP monitoring programs elsewhere. The Gaia team has conducted a thorough, 2-year pilot study to test the CC stove in approximately 850 households in Addis Ababa and in Refugee camps across Ethiopia. We would be willing to share this experience, data collection tools and guidelines with partners interested in running similar pilot studies elsewhere. In November, 2006, Gaia Association assisted PCIA to host a regional commercialization workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event was very successful, and we learned the enormous values of actively participating to support the partnership. We would be willing to arrange similar events in the future.