Determined to reduce Uganda’s dependency on wood-fuels, Lifeline has spent the past twelve years perfecting fuel-saving stove products that cater to local cooking practices and stimulating private markets for those stoves.

Employing a human-centered approach and drawing on its deep community ties, Lifeline has succeeded in developing (1) a low-cost charcoal-burning stove that exceeds the performance of every other comparably-priced stove on the market, and (2) the only wood-burning stove on the market that is both high-performing and affordable to rural consumers.

Since launching its commercial stove venture in 2008, Lifeline has produced over 300,000 stoves at its stove factory in Lira. In the year preceding the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, sales of those stoves surpassed 70,000 — a 100% increase over the prior year. Having reached this level of success, Lifeline has spun off its stove operations to Alkebulan EcoEnergy Ltd. (AEL), a Uganda-based social enterprise organization, which has the capacity to manufacture over 10,000 stoves per month and which is seeking to to sustain itself through the revenues it generates while advancing its mission of making fuel-saving stove products available to every Ugandan consumer at an affordable price.

The overall impact of Lifeline’s commercial stove venture on its Ugandan customers has been profoundly positive and includes:

  • Over 205,000 urban and per-urban families who have saved an average of about $200 per year (or 8% of their income) in charcoal costs.
  • Another 92,000+ rural households who have saved smore than 300 hours per year in time collecting wood or $100 per year in wood costs (or a combination thereof).
  • Over 1,500,000 individuals have reduced their exposure to toxic smoke, resulting in a sharp decrease in the incidence of acute health conditions such as cough, eye irritation and headaches.
Institutional Stoves

In virtually all of Uganda’s 24,500 primary and secondary schools cooking is performed in a central kitchen over an open 3-stone fire. The average such school expends about $1,200 per year on firewood or about $30 million in the aggregate – money that is sorely needed for teacher salaries, books, desks and other vital school needs. The amount of wood consumed in these school kitchens totals about 4 million tons per year or the equivalent of around 20 million trees.

Lifeline has been addressing this problem through an initiative that involves the production and marketing of fuel saving institutional stoves for usage by schools, prisons, health centers, orphanages and other institutions. These stoves have an average lifespan of five years and are constructed on site, where they are customized to meet customer needs at a cost of about $650 for an average school population of 300 to 350 students.

Lifeline has installed approximately 350 institutional stoves to date, serving a total of over 50,000 students and other beneficiaries. As these stoves reduce wood use by about 60%, they are saving the schools they serve about $700 per year in fuel costs and are reducing carbon emissions by a total of more than 13,000 tons per year.

Lifeline launched its operations in Haiti in February 2010 to provide cooking solutions to those who had lost their homes in a devastating earthquake. Determined to make a more lasting impact, Lifeline spent most of the next decade (1) developing and fine-tuning affordable fuel saving stoves that meet local cooking needs, and (2) catalyzing the efforts of a local social entrepreneurship organization (“D&E Green Enterprises”) to produce and distribute those stoves. Among other things, Lifeline provided D&E material and technical help that enabled a dramatic expansion in its production capacity and supported its efforts to market them to low-income consumers through an innovative cooperative financing model.

Through the combined efforts of Lifeline and D&E, more than 50,000 Haitian families have been able to procure affordable fuel-saving stoves, which have saved them an average of about $220 per year or the equivalent of about 20% of their household income.

Since that time, Lifeline has providing technical support to WFP’s local Burundese partners – advising on stove design and development, assisting in the establishment of regional manufacturing facilities, sharing its stove production knowhow, and providing training on quality control measures and testing methodologies.

As WFP has recognized, Lifeline’s support has been critical to an initiative, which has resulted in (1) the production, marketing and distribution of 25,000 fuel-saving household stoves that are benefitting over 125,000 Burudese villagers, and (2) the installation of 350 fuel-saving institutional stoves that are serving some 157,000 students and teachers.