Although Salama Stoves was founded in 2015 in Kenya, our story begins 30 years ago in South America. While completing her fellowship at Mayo clinic, Dr. Stice was asked by her mentors to accompany a medical team to Guatemala. Here, she witnessed the terrible burns, respiratory problems and eye disease caused by open fires.
Dr. Stice understood the positive impact that an improved cooking solution could have on the environment and on peoples’ lives. Not only do clean burning stoves reduce deforestation and minimize smoke inhalation, but they free up time for family members who no longer had to go searching for wood; this meant that children had more time to go school and women could engage in income generating activities.
Inspired by her trip, Dr. Stice began International Medical Exchange (IME) in 1990 and since then has led medical groups to Guatemala, Russia and most recently, Kenya. The primary focus of IME is to cooperate with local medical personnel on projects they think are important. In Kenya, it soon became obvious that diseases and injuries caused by open fires and traditional cooking methods were regarded by many local doctors as an ‘epidemic.' Dr. Stice partnered with a team of local experts to come up with a solution: a stove that would minimize the risk of burns, while at the same time reduce fuel consumption, toxic emissions and cooking time.
Since then, we have put together a team that comes from development, engineering and medical backgrounds to tackle the issue from all angles and in several countries. The stove we have designed is durable, adaptable and easy to install. Most importantly though, the stove is safe for children, hence the name Salama, which means safe in Swahili.
In Kenya, Salama Stoves has partnered with Nakuru Regional Hospital, and Dr. Stice returns every year to operate on children who have been burned in three stone fires. The medical staff at the burns unit helps us select the families who would benefit most from one of our Salama Stoves, usually families from very humble backgrounds who would otherwise have no choice but to continue using indoor fires.
One of our important goals is to create sustainable jobs around the manufacture, distribution and installation of Salama Stoves.
We are currently working in 3 countries, Kenya, Haiti, Tanzania.
Working in different countries has reassured us that the Salama Stove is relevant and adaptable. We have seen the evidence that it can transform the lives of rural off grid families significantly.
We have also learned much about the upside and downside of the 'local' manufacture aspects of our mission. We have work to do for the future in bringing standardization and professionalism to the local manufacture and installation process and in learning how to scale local operations.
The challenges for future growth are in keeping the adaptability of the Salama Stove design while moving towards cost and manufacture efficiency and still keeping our emphasis on building local skills and employment.