Christina Mashala lives in Kasighau village in Kenya’s Shimba Hills with her husband and 2 children. Her family was the recipient of one of more than 10,000 improved cook stoves that have been disseminated in the Shimba Hills through the Toshiba Carbon Zero scheme. She says: “Before receiving the improved cook stove I used to spend so much time gathering firewood because the 3-stone fire used so much wood. It would also emit a lot of smoke. Can you imagine spending 4 hours every day in a room full of smoke? I used to have to go to the clinic at least once a week to receive treatment for coughing. My nose would run and my eyes would water uncontrollably, and my clothes always smelt of smoke and were full of ash. My family was badly affected, especially my children who struggled to read and do their homework due to the smoke from the fire, causing them trouble at school as a consequence.”
Christina’s family’s health therefore suffered greatly as a result of exposure to indoor air pollution, which was very detrimental to their health and to the children’s education. Christina also reports how costly the problems could be, with the majority of the family’s modest income being spent on medicines to treat the associated health problems. Christina narrates how receiving an improved cook stove through the Toshiba Carbon Zero scheme has changed her family’s fortunes for the better: “Today I am a happy woman, mother and wife because my family is not bedevilled by the smoke that used to fill our house with the old 3-stone fire. The coughs, runny noses and chest infections that we used to suffer from are now things of the past. The money I used to spend on medications now go towards my children’s books, uniform and school fees.”
Thanks to the reduced smoke inhalation, Christina’s family is now in much better health on a day-to-day basis and is not so exposed to the potential longer term health challenges. The funds saved on medication can also be invested into farming inputs to diversify the food grown by Christina’s household, with a wider range of vegetables improving the family’s nutrition and therefore contributing to their long-term health.