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Malena Stoves and Energy Usage in Bolivia

Essay by   •  April 3, 2019  •  Research Paper  •  3,559 Words (15 Pages)  •  486 Views

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Located in Central South America, Bolivia, officially the Plurinational State of Bolivia has an area of 1,098,581 sq km and a population of over 11 million people. The country is multiethnic, but racial and social segregation that arose from Spanish colonialism still exists today. The country’s climate varies with altitude, ranging from tropical and humid to cold and semiarid. Bolivia’s terrain is rugged Andes Mountains with a highland plateau (Altiplano), hills, and lowland plains of the Amazon Basin, thus the effects of climate change are diverse. Bolivia has lost about 50% of glacier surface, therefore temperatures and precipitation have risen, creating extreme floods which affect the social sectors, economic, and infrastructure services. This impacts vulnerable populations the most, creating high levels of inequality. Biomass is becoming scarcer due to climate change and arid areas, resulting in deforestation and environmental problems. (See Appendix A for more country overview metrics)

The Bolivian government has been extensively trying to develop a rural electrification plan (PLABER), but implementing this plan has been a struggle due to constant economic and political crisis. Poverty reduction strategies have also been implemented, such as the Decentralized Infrastructure for Rural Transformation, estimated at $20 million USD, which has provided solar panels to remote areas which could help reduce the pressures on energy demand. Certain electricity projects in Bolivia work with different entities such as the World Bank and European Union for grid extensions, solar home systems, community solar and wind hybrids to improve the energy sector in the country.

The Human Development Index (HDI) ranks Bolivia 118th, out of 187 countries in 2017. The country ranks among the lowest in Latin American in several areas of health and development, such as poverty, education, fertility, malnutrition, mortality, and life expectancy. A country that is rich in resources, still remains one of the least developed in Latin America due to strict state-oriented investment policies for foreign investment interest. The indigenous Aymara and Quechua people live in the rural high plateau region of Bolivia, more commonly known as the Altiplano, and are among the most penurious people in the world. Almost all of the families in the region live in extreme poverty, and are in need of basic services such as electricity, sewage services and potable water. These rural Bolivians live in a region where the climate is cold and harsh and there is always economic uncertainty. Serving the Altiplano population of Bolivia will help them improve their everyday quality of life through more affordable and cleaner energy.

About seventy-five percent of the rural population in Bolivia lives on less than USD $1.50 a day. I would like to serve the Altiplano population of Bolivia because of the high poverty rates and need for affordable and clean energy. Every major step towards a sustainable future can start out with a small scale, to a population that needs it most. One of the best options for this population is the Malena Cook stove (See Appendix B), which would mean improved quality of life for many of these people.

About 3 billion people around the world cook every meal over an open fire. Indoor air pollution and smoke from inefficient fires in poorly ventilated homes worldwide kills 4.3 million people each year, and 85% of these are women and children under five years old. One death every 20 seconds makes Indoor Air Pollution the fourth biggest killer in the developing world. Household air pollution caused by traditional stoves is a major factor for the Altiplano population. Inefficient and polluting cooking regimes are deeply established in the culture and the Malena cook stove is the solution to this basic problem and can be implemented in households and social institutions around the community.

These stoves are an improvement because they are equipped with pot holes and chimneys which helps the reduction of toxic gas production and smoke exposure. They are also designed to use less dung and firewood when cooking and they are made from local resources such as unfired mud/clay bricks mixed in with straw and dung. Growing evidence also suggests indoor air pollution smoke as second to CO2 in contributing to global warming and climate change.

Malena cook stoves not only improve air quality when built inside, but they also use less biomass. This project encompasses technology transfer to rural communities, technical assistance, training for the local builders, and follow-up to monitor the installations. Reducing this household air pollution can have a great positive impacts on the rural community of the Altiplano, but the people need to be educated about this situation (See Appendix F - links between energy and the connections to environment, income, education and health). The Malena Cook Stove also provides heat for the home, not only is this beneficial in cooking, it is beneficial in heating the space at the same time. People will use less biomass when cooking and heating, making it a lot more sustainable than what they are used to consume and it will also take less time for them to gather the resources because of the reduced consumption.

As part of the pilot testing, a Stove Center can be built in the Altiplano area which can support technology development in the area and guide people in the right direction in order to improve their cooking lives, which in return improves their quality of life. The health and environmental benefits of this project have easily been demonstrated with previous stoves constructed in the region. Some locals have already built the Malena cook stove in their house and it has been a tremendous success (See Appendix D). A local man was introduced to the Malena cook stove and educated about it and he expanded the stove into a business because it was such a huge success. It gives people more financial freedom once implemented and the oven uses less firewood, it emits practically no smoke and the preparation of the food is cleaner. If the Stove Center becomes known in the community, the word will spread and people will start demanding the Malena cook stove.

Alongside the Stove Center, education about indoor air pollution can also be acquired at the local medical facilities. Pamphlets should be given to people to educate them about the health precautions and cooking indoors. Raising awareness though the different health programs in the community is a great way to reach the rural population. This will expose the Malena Inc. enterprise and program into the community as well. Marketing through education can be a great benefit to this program. It can introduce the company to a community which is very traditional and a lot of the time, culture stands in the way because people are used to doing things a certain way, especially

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