In rural regions of the country, many cooks solve the dilemma by preparing meals over a blaze created from firewood. Over the years the act has become a cultural tradition.
BUN-CA Fundación Red de Energía, a Central American organization that educates on efficient energy choices, is taking this concept and promoting a modern wood stove that both rural and urban citizens can use. It will be an alternative to electric or liquefied petroleum stoves, and a more eco-friendly choice to the old fashioned wood stoves.
“BUN-CA is promoting access to more clean forms for the cooking of food by the poorest users and creating micro-financing channels,” said José María Blanco, regional director.
The gathering of wood would not be a problem in this case. According to data collected by BUN-CA, 50 percent of primary energy sources in some Central American countries come from the intensive use of wood.
One brand, called Móviles, is manufactured with iron, and the combustion chamber is made with elements of clay. It is much lighter than clay-cement stoves normally seen. It also has a sheet to cook tortillas, and burners of different diameters on which to place the pots.
“An important application for Central Americans is the wood-burning stove to cook the dough for tortillas, pupusas, as well as other corn products that are sold in the streets and markets of major cities,” said Blanco.
Depending on the model, the stove may cost between $30 and $150 dollars, he said.
Another positive to the stove is that it is an energy source that is safer and reduces smoke pollution. The design reduces the problem of combustion of typical wooden stoves, which Blanco said are a waste of wood and emit large amounts of smoke in the areas where they were located. The result is respiratory problems, especially in women and infants, he said.
This initiative is just one part of the organization’s Programa Regional de Energía y Pobreza en Centro América to improve the quality of life of the most vulnerable Central American populations. The other half is to create small hydroelectric plants.