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UGANDA: Batwa People and Mountain Gorillas

Improving public health and preserving habitats

The Problem:

For thousands of years in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, the Batwa pygmies lived in harmony with the forest and its creatures. Upon their eviction from the park in 1992, which was done to protect the endangered mountain gorillas, the Batwa became "conservation refugees" and landless peasants. They are now some of the most severely marginalized people in the world, with an average life expectancy of less than 30 years.

The Batwa community still relies heavily upon the Bwindi Impenentrable Forrest for wood to use as fuel for their open cooking fires in their homes. This depletion of wood causes immense habitat destruction for the fragile forest ecosystem, including the endangered mountain gorillas, as well as contributes to global warming. The serious impact of these indoor fires is not just limited to the environment. For people, the reliance on inefficient cookstoves and fuels leads to serious health impacts from smoke exposure (emphysema, heart disease, cancer, cataracts, etc.) and economic burdens that disproportionately impact women and girls, particularly because cooking and fuel collection largely remain a woman's responsibility.

How ECOLIFE® Helps:

ECOLIFE® is working to provide the Batwa and Bakiga populations living around the Bwindi Impenetrable Forrest with a efficient wood-burning stove in each of their homes for cooking and heating. The Massai stove is 60% more fuel-efficient than cooking over the traditional open fire and reduces respiratory ailments by at least 35% by decreasing hazardous smoke emissions. The fuel efficiency of the stove means that 60% less wood is needed and, consequently, fewer trees are destroyed.

The installation of safe, fuel-efficient cookstoves will dramatically improve the health and lives of the people in Bwindi & Buhoma. The community's women and children will no longer have to cook for hours over an open stove in smoke-filled homes, suffering the respiratory and other health consequences that shorten their lives. The project will also help protect the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, one of the planet's most biologically diverse areas, from further deforestation and loss of habitat for its precious wildlife. This will have a far-reaching impact on the forest's most famous residents – the critically endangered Bwindi mountain gorillas, a huge draw for Uganda's ecotourism industry.

How You Can Help:

  • With every $150 donation, ECOLIFE® builds and installs a highly efficient wood burning Maasai stove in a home in Bwindi or Buhoma and enters the stove into our health and monitoring program.
  • Be active on our Facebook Page. Get your friends and their friends involved.