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Cheap loans spur uptake of energy-efficient stoves in Kenya slums 

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Mary Otieno, a Kenyan who has been using an energy efficient cooking stove for the past one year has no regrets.

The 32-year-old mother of three is part of a growing army of households in Kenya’s informal settlements that have stopped using traditional cooking stoves in favor of energy efficient ones thanks to their membership in Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Saccos).

Kenya’s Saccos have been instrumental in the increased uptake of energy efficient stoves and solar lights among the urban poor.

These Saccos have partnered with manufacturers of energy saving equipment and are now extending soft loans to their members to enable them acquire the equipment.

The collaboration has made these energy efficient stoves to be more affordable to consumers by eliminating the middle men.

Through her membership in the Sacco, Otieno who lives in Kibera slums, one of the largest informal settlements in Africa, got a soft loan to purchase a brand new cooking stove at a cost of 32 U.S dollars.

“I normally used to spend at least 0.5 dollars daily on firewood to cook for my family every day,” she told Xinhua in Nairobi.

“After acquiring the energy efficient stove, I use less than 0.25 U.S dollars daily for cooking for my household,” Otieno added.

She noted that the energy efficient stove is one of the best investment decisions that she has ever made as she recouped her money in less than five months.

The Kenya Union of Savings and Credit Cooperatives (KUSCCO) on Wednesday entered into a partnership with Pamoja Life, a social enterprise incorporated in Kenya, that will enable the two institutions provide innovative renewable energy products to Kenyan SACCO members at an affordable cost.

Pamoja Life CEO Viney Sharma said that the energy efficient stoves emit 50 percent less smoke compared to traditional stoves.

Traditional stoves have been blamed for respiratory diseases among urban slum dwellers.

Sharma said that the increased uptake of clean stoves will help to improve the health of slum residents who are dependent on traditional cooking stoves.

Pamoja Life also provides solar lighting equipment for the urban poor. Government data indicates that approximately 70 percent of Kenya has access to electricity.

The Kenyans who are not connected to the national grid use kerosene for lighting their homes.

Households typically spend 0.5 dollars daily on kerosene. Through the tie up between Saccos and suppliers, slum dwellers can acquire solar lighting systems for as little as 43 dollars.

Sharma said that buyers can recoup their investments in about three months because the solar equipment has no running costs.

He noted that solar lighting is ideal in Kenya because of the abundant sunlight throughout the year.

“In addition, use of solar reduces dependence on use of kerosene, a fossil fuel that contributes to climate change,” the CEO said.

Pamoja life Kenya, which was established in Kenya 18 months ago as a social enterprise has already sold thousands of solar lights to urban slum dwellers.



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