Newly fixed road.

Halaha Kebele is located 212 km away from Arba Minch town in the Southern Region of Ethiopia. The kebele is made up of around 800 households. The kebele is only accessible via one 14km unsurfaced road which was built by the community over 15 years ago.

In February 2024, the VGIF stoves team travelled to Halaha to meet with community members to discuss the introduction of Improved CookStoves (ICS). It took the team over 2 hours to reach the village from the main road. They had to stop frequently to remove stones and vegetation obstructing the route, and when the road became impassable, they completed the final portion on foot. When the team finally reached the kebele, they were exhausted and concluded that Halaha was unfortunately not suitable for the stoves project. Since the meeting with the community was already scheduled, they knew they would still have to attend and give the kebele representatives the bad news in person. The VGIF team introduced Vita, the benefits of the ICS, and the reason they came to their village to introduce this technology. Then the team explained that the access road was too difficult for the vehicles to transport the stoves, so it seemed the project would be impossible, unless the community could come up with a solution for how to transport the stoves to the kebele.

An old man got up immediately from his seat and said: “Because of this road, we missed a lot of opportunities in the past. When other kebeles received fertilizer, we couldn’t. We have had to send our kids to the neighbouring kebele for school and health vaccinations. So, the obstruction of this road must end now.”

A woman in the crowd said, “We have all heard about these improved cookstoves from our friends who live far away. They said the stove is so good that it can save firewood and make your kitchen look tidy. In this village, there is a high scarcity of firewood, so we were waiting for the stoves to reach here. Finally, it has arrived. Please, don’t let this opportunity pass us by.”

The community members discussed and agreed that since the community had built the road initially, they would rebuild it again. Finally, a community leader told the VGIF stoves team: “You promise to bring the stoves and we promise to build the road”.

People from the village, in groups of 200 to 300, went out each day to work on the road. They picked up stones, filled the openings with soil, and levelled the road. The Halaha kebele community built a 14km long road in 5 days. As promised, within 1-2 weeks a Vita Isuzu truck brought the stoves, and the community welcomed the truck with clapping and songs.

When a village woman describes the situation after road construction “The long misery is finally over for our village. In the past, women in labour had to be carried by donkey a long way to reach the health post due to the road. Now, the ambulance can reach the village to transport sick people and women in labour. The market is flourishing after the road was built.”

The VGIF Stoves programme is delivered on a community-led basis, facilitating the active engagement of the entire community and ensuring collective behaviour change through a whole-of-community approach for adoption of improved cookstoves. In this case, the collective spirit of the community was crystalised by the prospect of improved stoves which motivated them to address and solve a long-standing access problem together. It is always our hope that our interventions leave communities more empowered than they were before. In this case, it was the promise of our intervention that pushed the community to empower themselves. You can support our work HERE