U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec Remarks for the National Clean Cookstoves and Fuel Conference in Kenya

Ms. Radha Muthiah, Executive Director, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Ms. Kathy Calvin, UN Foundation, Mr. Isaac Kalua, Green Africa Foundation, Representatives of the Government of Kenya, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and the Clean Cookstoves Association of Kenya, Representatives of the Private Sector, Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen.  Hamjambo!  Habari Zenu!

I am honored to be here with you today in support of clean cookstoves.  Every year, around the world, four million people die or are injured as a result of household air pollution caused by traditional cooking methods.  These deaths and injuries are completely preventable – and that’s why the U.S. government has supported improved cookstoves for over thirty years.  As early as 1980, the U.S. government funded an alternative energy project to study the construction of small stoves in rural areas.  Two years later in 1982, at a United Nations energy conference right here in Nairobi, a competition was held to design an improved cookstove.  The winning design was developed by a Kenyan, Maxwell Kinyanjui.  It was what they called an improved jiko, or stove, and was one of the first clean cookstoves.

Now, almost 30 years after Mr. Kinyanjui’s invention, too many households in Kenya, particularly in rural areas, continue to burn firewood and charcoal for cooking and heating in unimproved, traditional stoves.  Across the country, household pollution causes nearly 15,000 premature deaths every year.  Women and children suffer the most – for they bear the responsibility for most of the cooking and fuel collection in households.  The widespread use of firewood and charcoal not only burdens Kenya’s families and hospitals, it also destroys the natural environment and puts pressure on Kenya’s forests.  In 2010, the U.S. government accelerated the search for innovative solutions to this global problem, when then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.  In just three years the Alliance, with support from the U.S. government and its partners, has made great strides developing a thriving market for clean cooking solutions.  The total global commitment by the United States in support of clean cookstoves now stands at $125 million – that’s nearly 11 billion Kenya shillings.  This investment will help the Alliance achieve its goal of enabling 100 million homes globally to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020.  And, in Kenya, the goal is to ensure that seven million homes have new, clean cookstoves by 2020.

To get there, the United States has worked with financial institutions to support commercial lending to cookstove enterprises, and committed an Overseas Private Investment Corporation loan of $3 million to private companies to support the establishment of a cookstove assembly and manufacturing operation in Kenya.  Through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control we conducted evaluations to assess stove performance, acceptability, and adoption in rural households.  And, Kenya and the United States are cooperating with the International Standards Organization to establish internationally recognized standards for clean cookstove technology.

Our goal is to promote market-based solutions, and I am pleased to say that two U.S. companies are working in cookstove production and distribution in Kenya:  BURN Manufacturing and Envirofit International.  Both have made significant contributions to the cookstove market here.  Envirofit alone has improved the lives of more than one million Kenyans with clean energy technologies.  After helping Kenyans in their homes with clean cooking, Envirofit has developed new institutional stove technologies that will make lives better in schools, orphanages, and community centers.

This past November, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced it would award one million dollars to three organizations to promote fuel-efficient cookstove distribution in Kenya.  The three competition winners were selected from among 43 proposals for their innovative solutions to overcome distribution and financing bottlenecks in the development of Kenyan cookstoves.  The Kenyan Union of Savings and Credit Co-operatives will develop a cookstove-specific credit facility that its nearly 1,400 Savings and Credit Cooperative society members can use to lend to Kenyans to purchase cookstoves.  Boma Saft Ltd, another competition winner, is a Kenyan women-owned business that will expand and strengthen its distribution network.  And, BURN Manufacturing Company and the Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust will create a Revolving Fund that will provide financing to cookstove distributors in Kenya.

As the result of this work together, more and more Kenyans own and use a clean cookstove.  They are healthier and their homes have less pollution.   The burden on Kenya’s forests is reduced.  And the growing market for cookstoves is creating jobs and strengthening manufacturing in Kenya.

As we celebrate 50 years of U.S.-Kenya relations, I am proud of what we have accomplished together in so many areas, clean cookstoves included.  However, there is work still to be done.  To reach the goal of enabling seven million Kenyan households to adopt clean cooking solutions by 2020, we will have to work together.  We will need energy, commitment and creativity.  I know, however, that Kenya can and will succeed in reaching this goal.

By bringing together innovators, producers, and distributors, this conference is an important step towards developing and building a strong market for clean cookstoves.  The U.S. government is proud to be a part of this work.  On clean cookstoves, as in so many other areas, the United States is here as a friend.  Our commitment will not change.  It will not waver.  It will not alter.  We look forward to the next 50 years of our partnership.  A partnership committed to making the lives of both Kenyans and Americans better.  Together, we can make it happen.

Asanteni sana.  Thank you.