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Local Rotary Making a Difference in Bringing Safe Stoves to Poor Nations

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An effort by a local Rotary club is trying to make a global impact to help protect millions of people’ lives from a little-known challenge.

The Briarcliff Rotary will be holding a fundraiser this Saturday evening for the Cookstove Project, a nonprofit organization that was created 10 years ago to replace open burn indoor stoves with cookstoves. Most of the open burn stoves are used in Third World nations and poor communities in Africa, Asia and South and Central America.

Jeff Cadge, a Cookstove Project board member and one of three Briarcliff Rotarians on the board, said about one-third of the world’s population uses the open burn stoves – about 2.6 billion people – accounting for roughly 5 percent of Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions and 25 harming the health of the families who use them. That is about equivalent to the emissions caused by the airline industry worldwide.

An estimated 3.8 million people die each year caused by illnesses that are the result of cooking over an open fire indoors.

“It’s a small leap for us but it’s a big leap for them,” Cadge said of the stoves.

Saturday’s event will be at Traveler’s Rest on Route 100 in Ossining. It will include an evening of food, drinks and jazz from The Chris Potter Trio while also raising money to buy stoves for countless families in Uganda and Nepal, Cadge said. It will also provide those who attend with an update on the progress of the work. All proceeds will go to the effort.

In addition to the negative health impact on the millions of families who cook their food with open burn stoves, it also requires an enormous amount of wood, contributing to the leveling of millions of trees, which also accelerates problems for the environment, according to Cadge.

The Cookstove Project pays to assemble a safe, clean stove using locally sourced materials. When built, the stoves produce cleaner and hotter fires and no smoke comes into the house. Cook masters in those communities also teach families how to use and maintain the newly assembled stoves.

Cadge said the $100 price for the ticket for Saturday’s fundraiser will pay for about 10 families to get one of the safer stoves that they can use.

The nonprofit was created in 2013 by Rebecca Sommer and her husband Michael, after she heard of the problem in many poor nations around the globe. The situation was so bad that it was the leading cause of death in sub-Saharan Africa. By the following year, the Briarcliff Manor Rotary got involved in the effort and has been a major supporter since then.

In May 2013, the project’s first stove was built in Uganda, and in 2014, Rotary expanded the effort was expanded to Nepal. Since then, more than 27,000 stoves have been built by the Cookstove Project, helping to protect the health of well over 100,000 people.

Cadge said given the size of the nonprofit there has been good progress, and other Rotary chapters have joined in to help in the effort.

“It’s a small nonprofit but we’re making a difference,” Cadge said. “You know where the work is going and being a part of this bigger umbrella, I know absolutely we’re making a difference.”

To buy tickets to Saturday’s event, visit www.cookstoveproject.org or call Jeff Cadge at 914-941-6464. There is also more information on the website about the organization and the work that it is doing.

Correction: The original posting of this article incorrectly reported that Cookstove Project founder Rebecca Sommer was a Briarcliff Manor Rotarian. Also, the Briarcliff Manor Rotary become involved in the Cookstove Project in 2014, the year after it was established. The Examiner regrets the errors.



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