U. S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec Remarks for Envirofit International Institutional Stove Launch

Good Morning.  Nzuri asubuhi!

Thank you, Ron Bills and colleagues at Envirofit for the invitation to speak today and to Makini School for hosting this special event.

I am pleased to be here with you in support of Envirofit’s launch of their new institutional cookstove.  Indoor air pollution – pollution from traditional cookstoves – is a problem that affects millions of people around the world but it is a problem that gets too little attention.  If you have experienced the smoke of an open fire or a poorly functioning stove indoors, either in a home or a school kitchen, the smell and soot in the air is unforgettable.   Over time, breathing in the toxic smoke affects health.  Indeed, it can kill you.  And those who suffer most are women and children because women are the ones tending to the family meal, and school children often study by the weak light of an open flame.  Everyone who is exposed is at great risk of pneumonia, cancers, and other acute respiratory infections from exposure to smoke.

As teachers and parents, and as stewards of our environment, we have a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of our families and future generations.   Improving the health of our children allows them to perform better in school, become productive members of society, and live longer, healthier lives.  Raising healthy kids means a smaller burden on the health sector and a stronger economy.

Clean cooking solutions are a simple, direct way to solve the problem of unhealthy indoor air and improve the lives of millions of people.  I was fortunate to participate in the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves National Conference last month and was very impressed by the progress made since the Alliance was launched in 2010.   I saw many improved cookstove designs, interacted with experts discussing innovative business models, and was impressed by new financing mechanisms.  The sector has been energized by innovative, market-based solutions like those initiated by Envirofit.

Envirofit was created to unite clean energy research with consumer driven product design to bring market-based solutions to emerging markets.  Their institutional stove will do just that.  It will reduce smoke inhalation for those doing the cooking while reducing fuel consumption by 90 percent – impacting millions of lives in schools, orphanages, and community centers.  I met with Ron Bills in May last year and learned about Envirofit’s work.  They started their operations in 2011 as the first U.S. private cookstove investor in Kenya.  They now produce over 100,000 stoves annually and have a presence in over 20 countries in Africa.  Kenya is Envirofit’s production base for all of Africa.  The investments made here have improved the lives of more than one million Kenyans through the use of clean energy technologies and have generated more than 1,000 jobs in Kenya alone.

The United States has a long history of supporting the clean cookstove sector in Kenya.  From the launch of the Global Alliance by former Secretary of State Clinton in 2010 to the American companies working here, the United States is committed to supporting the development of a robust market for clean and healthy cooking solutions in Kenya.

The United States is also invested in and committed to addressing some of the health concerns related to indoor air pollution.  Last year, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in partnership with the Kenya Medical Research Institute, conducted a multi-stove evaluation in Kenya that looked at stove performance, acceptability, and adoption of improved stoves.   CDC is looking at taking this research a step further to determine whether there has been a reduction of respiratory diseases due to improved indoor air quality so we can quantify some of these benefits.

The United States has been a strong partner to Kenya for the past 50 years.  We have worked together on countless initiatives and projects during that time to improve the lives of Kenyans and strengthen the Kenyan economy.  Today’s launch, and the clean cookstove movement in general, is a good example of how the United States and Kenya, and the public and private sectors, continue to make positive changes for millions of people.  We look forward to making these partnerships even stronger in the coming years.

I would like to thank Ron Bills and his colleagues at Envirofit for their extraordinary work and to congratulate them on this event.  The United States is proud to be a part of this important work.  I look forward to collaborating with you and other cookstove partners in the future.  Keep up the good work.

Thank you.  Asanteni sana.