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Short project summary

Project Gaia Ethiopia, an initiative of Project Gaia seeks to create a model by which a household market for alcohol based fuels can be developed on a commercially viable scale throughout Ethiopia while also informing how replication can occur across Africa. A unique set of circumstances currently exists within Ethiopia that allows it to be a leader for the rest of Africa in creating such a market. First, Ethiopia's publicly owned sugar industry currently produces eight million litres of ethanol per annum from sugar cane wastes and can produce much more; this ethanol does not yet have a market. At the same time, Ethiopia imports all of its petroleum fuels, including kerosene, with sizeable impact to the balance of trade. Finally, Ethiopian families have great need of improved fuels and safer stoves. To take advantage of these circumstances, this project brings a well-known non-pressure European alcohol stove to Ethiopia. This stove is durable, reliable and extremely safe, with high efficiency and high output (quick cooking times). Redesigned for production at an affordable price in Ethiopia without sacrificing quality or performance, the stove's out-performance of the kerosene wick stove and comparable performance to the LP gas stove will allow it to be embraced where other alcohol stoves have not.

Project location

Ethiopia, primarily Addis Ababa, and UNHCR camps.

Project partners

Project Gaia Ethiopia has received funding from The Shell Foundation, SIDA and Dometic AB. Stokes Consulting Group, together with the Gaia Association, serve as project administrators. Other partners include, the Federal Government of Ethiopia, the UNHCR-RLO, UNDP as well as several non-profit organizations and professional associations such as the Ethiopian Society of Chemical Engineers (ESCHE), and local private businesses, including Makobu Enterprises PLC.

Project goals (summary)

The goal is to revolutionize the household energy economy of Ethiopia by leading the way to alcohol fuels derived from currently wasted or under used resources, both biomass and hydrocarbon resources, for daily household use, including cooking, refrigeration, heating, lighting and electrical generation. This includes monetization of Ethiopian ethanol into a high value market that does not now exist (essentially no domestic market exists for the ethanol at present) and will encourage the production of ethanol from waste molasses that currently is being dumped (several of Ethiopia's sugar factories discharge their molasses into the Awash River). This also includes spurred investment and job creation in Ethiopia along with the multitude of social, health and environmental benefits that will occur from alcohol fuel use in the household. The issue of the environment is especially crucial given both the many resettlement areas in Ethiopia where large displaced populations must forage for limited biomass resources with which to cook and heat and the rapidly growing urban population of Addis Ababa that depends on biomass from the surrounding country side given their low disposable incomes and thus their inability to purchase and use more modern energy forms such as electricity.

Duration and start date

January 2004 to Current

Contact details

Gaia Association: gaiaassociation at projectgaia.com
Harry Stokes: hstokes at projectgaia.com
Fiona Lambe: fionalambe at gmail.com
Jim Murren: jmurren at gmail.com

Project background

The need to affect change in household energy consumption patterns in developing countries is of the utmost importance given the adverse impact current energy demand has on health, society, the economy and the environment. Approximately 60% of the African continent depends on traditional biomass (e.g., fuelwood and dung) to meet its energy needs, with the percentage soaring to roughly 95% for Sub-Saharan African; the majority of this demand is due to cooking. Traditional fuels, along with the highly prevalent household "intermediate" fuels such as kerosene, impose heavy tolls on health via smoke, emissions, and fire hazard; these include acute respiratory infection in children, chronic obstructive lung disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes and lung cancer in women. Indeed, the World Health Organization estimates that indoor air pollution results in 1.6 million deaths worldwide per year due to indoor air pollution, 24% occurring in Africa alone, and 2.7% of the global burden of disease, over half of which arises in Africa. The impact on women and children is especially pronounced, with 56% of deaths of children under the age of five, along with 80% of the global burden of disease on children under the age of five, being caused by indoor air pollution.

Additional burdens from current household energy consumption patterns exist. For example, collection of firewood and other traditional biomass fuels is time-consuming-the World Bank estimates that fuel collection accounts on average for 20% of a rural woman's work time-and thus prevents time being spent in more productive ways such as education. As well, environmental impacts from traditional fuel exacerbate the rapid deforestation occurring across the developing world while also adversely impacting the broader environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Indeed, it is imperative that a revolution occur in household energy consumption in developing countries, and alcohol fuels offer the best and most viable solution. To begin, alcohol fuels are the cleanest of the liquid fuels and the safest when used in properly designed appliances. Likewise, the use of alcohol fuels imparts greatly improved air quality in the kitchen and courtyard, safer handling with reduced danger of fires and explosions, and reduced environmental impacts from better and cleaner resource management. Furthermore, a market for currently wasted or underused resources such as waste molasses will turn no-value by-products into high value industrial products, increasing productivity, spurring employment and promoting investment in industry, agriculture, manufacturing, and services, the latter with stove and fuel distribution. Finally, with most African countries dependent on petroleum imports, displacement by domestically produced alcohol fuels will result in valuable foreign exchange savings and an improvement in the balance of payments, especially if an export market is developed.

Project approach and activities

The pilot study in Ethiopia began in 2004 with the introduction of 850 CleanCook stoves and ethanol for testing in various sites around Ethiopia, including private households of varying income level in Addis Ababa, UNHCR refugee camps, and various other institutional settings. The primary objectives of the study included:
  • To explore existing fuel consumption patterns.
  • To test the suitability of the stove and fuel in various settings in Ethiopia and to address issues related to stove design and appropriateness of technology.
  • To document the various benefits associated with using the new technology.
  • To explore different marketing options for making the stove and fuel commercially viable in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Pilot Study: Exciting Results

The findings of the pilot study were extremely favorable. Over 75,000 stove test days were logged in the city and the refugee camps without a single accident. For detailed reports on and analysis of the research findings, contact Gaia Association below. The main findings were as follows:
  • The CleanCook stove has met with broad consumer acceptance and has replaced kerosene, charcoal, firewood and even liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in many of the test homes.
  • Most respondents reported that the CleanCook stove cooks faster than other stoves.
  • Respondents reported relief from symptoms of asthma, burning, itching eyes, irritated nose and throat, and coughing.
  • In the refugee camps, fuelwood gathering has been reduced 100% in some instances and women have been liberated from the need to collect firewood.
  • Many of these women are now using their time for other pursuits, including child care, home industry to earn money and education.

Deliverables and benefits

Numerous reports detailing the stages of the pilot study in Addis Ababa and UNHCR camps can be requested from Gaia Association. Deliverables will also include the final business plan.

Benefits include those discussed above: monetization of Ethiopian ethanol into a high value market that does not currently exist; increased productivity; increased investment and employment; improved indoor air quality and household health; greater fuel choice for Ethiopians; better resource management, particularly in terms of stemming deforestation, and improvement in the environment; and macroeconomic improvements through valuable foreign exchange savings and an improvement in the balance of payments, especially if an export market is developed.

Click on the following Project Gaia reports

See also

Project Gaia



Last edited by Clair Marrey .
Page last modified on Tuesday September 28, 2010 09:58:29 GMT.
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