Utsil Naj (A Healthy Home for all) - Guatemala
Central America is one of the regions in the world most affected by climate change. In particular, Guatemala is located in the “dry corridor”, where extreme weather events have been intensifying with the climate crisis, thus threatening the livelihood and well-being of the communities who live there. A significant proportion of these rural communities still cook on open stoves with solid fuels such as firewood.
As a result, families have to cut more trees, use more firewood, and produce more smoke every time they need to cook. Toxic fumes from conventional stoves produce indoor air pollution, a leading cause of many heart and lung diseases in rural communities.
Unsustainable timber harvesting also threatens local forest and biodiversity. Furthermore, using firewood as fuel unsustainably increases the aridification of rivers and threatens agricultural productivity.
There are close to 2.5 million families still using traditional cookstoves in Guatemala. As a result, these communities have to cut more trees, use more firewood, and produce more smoke every time they need to cook. This is having a huge impact on the environment and their health.
- Where and when: Guatemala, Central America - 2012
- Technology: Improved Cookstoves
- Project Certification:
The Utsil Naj project in Guatemala aims at addressing these challenges in an innovative way. Switching to improved cookstoves (ICS) reduces the use of firewood and lowers carbon emissions, all while expelling the toxic fumes outside the users’ homes. This dramatically decreases household air pollution.
Utsil Naj means “A Healthy Home for All” in Maya, was established in 2012 and covers Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras. The particular challenge about having projects in different countries is that each location has its own particular characteristics.
Particularly in Guatemala, where an average of 24kg of firewood is used per household per day, the project’s participation in preventing forest degradation has been considerable. This is due in large part to the type of ICS used: the models installed have a well-insulated combustion chamber making it much more efficient. Also, successful campaigns to raise awareness and capacity-building activities help encourage more community members to adopt this technology. This is why it is important to ensure Utsil Naj remains active, to make sure the switch to ICS is sustained.
Having this approach has helped keep Utsil Naj – Guatemala sustainable, generating lasting benefits for almost 10 years. It has generated one carbon credits issuances, corresponding to 177 thousand euros given to local partners for the sustainability of their projects. The project is currently present in six regions: Chiquimula, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, Quinche, and Sacatepequéz.
In addition to the environmental impacts generated by the project, Utsil Naj is having a profound social and economic impact in each family. For example, women and children save time collecting firewood which they can dedicate to studies or other income-generating activities.
Now, these families can improve their quality of life while enjoying their traditional cuisine in a sustainable and healthy way.
Impact since the beginning of the programme
This project is certified by the prestigious Gold Standard. The positive impacts on our communities and our planet are carefully measured and reported as contributions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined by the United Nations (UN).
''The switch to ICS is easy because families like the decorated platforms on the side of the stove that makes it easier to prepare tortillas and gives them access to their cooking utensils'''
(Chacapampa Community in Junin, Peru)