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Women of the Gideon village in Malawi mold clay into portable clay stoves with their hands and feet.
Women of the Gideon village in Malawi mold clay into portable clay stoves.
Sharon Nkhoma, 27 years old, molds a clay stove.
Sharon Nkhoma, 27 years old, molds clay into a stove.

In the Kasungu Heifer project in Malawi, part of Heifer training included teaching participants how to make improved cook stoves. These stoves only use a third as much fuel as traditional cooking fires, cook meals faster, emit less smoke and are less dangerous all around.

Here’s how our project partners in Malawi make their new, portable outdoor stoves: 

  1. Collect clay. Participants in the Kasungu Heifer projet collect it from the moist ground near their gardens.
  2. If you also gathered your clay directly from the Earth, knead the clay to find and remove stones and twigs.
  3. Hurl clay on the ground to squeeze out air bubbles that would cause the stoves to shatter in the kiln.*
  4. Use a bucket and wooden wedges to shape the clay into the correct shape: a hollow cylinder with thick walls and a half-moon cut out where the wood feeds into the stove, with handles on the sides.
  5. Fire it in a kiln, and you’re done! The wood feeds into the half-moon and your cooking pot rests on top.

Using these stoves as opposed to traditional cooking fires saves the women and children in Malawi charged with collecting firewood lots of time, while also saving more trees from the flames. Children often get burned in traditional cooking fires, and the portable clay stoves are much safer because the fire is contained.

They aren’t always made the same way, but providing various kinds of improved cookstoves has long been a tenet of many Heifer projects around the world. You can provide improved stoves for Heifer projects right here. 

*this project doubles as excellent stress relief/anger management


Heifer International

Heifer International is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization working with communities to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.