Maasai Stoves & Solar Project overview

Meela using the ICSEE stove, reducing indoor smoke by 90 percent

 The Maasai Stoves & Solar Project has a powerful impact on health, economic well-being, women’s empowerment, climate change effects in the rain-based economy,  and the quality of life for the people.

Meaningful impact–read about the essence of empowerment and sustainability

Clean, safe water comes to the people

The Maasai Stoves & Solar Project strives for the greatest possible direct impact from the introduction of smoke-removing efficient stoves. From the onset, this has meant better health for women and their children. Impact soon spreads and grows because the focus goes beyond a single technological solution. The International Collaborative engages the people as they embrace the idea that problems can be solved through organizing for collective action.

Something new emerges In the midst of idea generation, engineering, design, and resource planning. Participants soon discover the greatest impact is on themselves, as a community. There is a new optimistic celebration of power and the realization of the possibility of genuine life improvement.

The International Collaborative believes that the essence of “empowerment” is the internalization and retention of that creative energy. And the essence of “sustainability” is the increasing permanence of that new spirit of engagement.

Impact summary and scope of action

As the second decade of the Project begins, we see our main areas of work, as summarized here, with expanded comments below.

  • I. Home improvement and transformed lives of women
    • Improved stoves
    • Solar electricity for the home
    • Water from polluted ponds made safe with chlorination

Water Manager Training at Cypress Hill

  • II. Women’s direct organizing for financial strength
    • Organizing women’s groups in villages, building cooperative banks and individual and collective businesses
    • Maasai Women’s Installation Team members organized for business
  • III. Enterprises linked to protecting and improving livestock management
    • Manyara feedlot for livestock
    IV. Creating community resources that strengthen social life and stability The Cypress Hill Community Resource Center includes:
    • Cypress Hill Community Resource Center including
    • Library
    • Computer Center
    • Training facilities and programs
    • Dormitory for residential workshops
    • Playground
    • Restaurant

ICSEE(T) awarded with the Uhuru Torch of Tanzania for its impact in life improvement

 Stoves and solar description

Chimney Maasai Stoves & Solar impact

Women’s Installation Team member building chimney

The Project addresses the indoor smoke in the homes of pastoral people in East Africa caused by cooking on open wood-burning fires. This is a profound international health issue that affects millions in the developing world.

MSS designs and installs clean-burning and efficient wood-burning chimney stoves and solar panel-based electrical systems in the homes of the people. In addition, we install settlement-wide solar panel-based micro-grid electrical systems. MSS purchases imported components of the photo-voltaic systems but produces stoves locally.

I. Home improvement and impact on women’s lives

Stoves & Solar

Over the course of its lifetime, The ICSEE durable and efficient Model Four stove reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 20 tons.

Having a light at night is a dramatic lift from poverty. In the small homes of the Maasai even a few watts makes a huge difference in life. In the Maasai areas near the equator, dark nights are long year-round. In addition, cell-phone charging in the home is cost-efficient, and keeps the phone safe and away from tampering.

Stove use saves 10-12 hours of wood-gathering labor each week

  • Reduction of the polluting particulate level from cooking smoke by 90 percent, alleviating chronic coughing and head congestion, primarily in women and children
  • One stove reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 3.6 metric tons per year
  • Reduction of carbon monoxide levels in the home by 90 percent, eliminating low-level poisoning
  • Eliminated the danger of burns to toddlers caused by open cooking fires in their homes
  • Reducing the risk of smoke-related lung disease in children
  • Pollution-free and odor-free lighting motivates kids to read and study
  • Maasai women who join stove installation teams are profoundly appreciative of the opportunity to learn to use tools and master construction and design challenges, and report feeling authentically empowered
  • Each stove saves the woman of the house 10-12 hours of weekly wood gathering labor
  • Each stove saves 120 pounds of firewood per week, reducing deforestation
  • Greater appreciation of the power of the collective, versus what an individual woman can do alone
  • 4000 stoves installed as of 2019

Maasai Stoves & Solar micro-grid electrification impact

Light at night in the boma

 From the beginning, the Maasai Stoves & Solar Project has integrated electrification on a home-by-home basis. We continue this approach on a significant scale.

Since 2014 we have also brought shared electrification through micro-grids. The micro-grids supply power to all the homes and corrals of Maasai family settlements, or bomas.

  • For the first time, settlements have light at night
  • Sixty bomas now have micro-grid electrical service
  • The homes have clean stoves, lights and phone chargers
  • Trained 42 women and men on installation and electrical maintenance, forming the Solar Installation Team
  • Each settlement’s animal corrals are lit to keep away predators

Safe water chlorination systems impact

With 40 liters of safe water a day, a woman can provide drinking and bathing water for her family without having to treat it herself. Women have a variety of ways to handle badly polluted water, from doing nothing to boiling it at the cost of more energy and hours of work.

With 35 children per thousand dying of water-borne disease before the age of five in these communities, and many more sickened by the pollution, safe water is a crucial life-saver.

The installation of a 5,000 or 10,000-liter per day pond-side chlorination systems costs only $35 per family. It’s a few cents per month per family for maintenance with the necessary chemical treatment.

  • Each system is successfully managed by community members responsible for the surface pond use.
  • System size is set to provide 40 liters per day for each family using that water source
  • Costs are low and health impacts very significant and positive

II. Impact of women organizing


In collaboration with the Global Fund for Widows, the ICSEE(T) organized groups of women in eleven villages. Each group of 25 women received excellent training. They now operate their cooperative banks and manage a collective livestock business. The ICSEE(T) Project Organizer succeeds in linking the women to the village authorities for additional support benefits.

Maasai Stoves & Solar Installation Trainers and Teams

The stove has a chimney and needs installation and is therefore an opportunity for employment. This is a special feature at the core of the impact of the Project. Team leaders train women in new villages to become installation experts. Trainers and trainees earn money for this. Many also run businesses through their own organization, the Monduli Pastoralist Women’s Organization (MPWO).

III. Livestock management impact

At the new ICSEE Manyara Feedlot

The Maasai’s traditional herding practices have made them East Africa’s most famous pastoralists. But because of periods of serious drought in recent years, new approaches are essential. Established in 2017, the Project’s  Manyara feedlot is already having an impact, recognized by the the Uhuru Torch award that year.

Climate change is already here for rain-based livestock-based economies like the one for pastoralists in the plains of northern Tanzania. There will continue to be some seasons with plenty of rain and grass when traditional livestock practices will still function for the people. But it is important to expand flexible solutions for economic and social survival and to keep pastoralists from resorting to moving to urban slums.

Manyara Feedlot

The International Collaborative feedlot provides a model of the flexibility required. It demonstrates how to care for cattle with purchased hay and food supplements when weather conditions require it.

IV. Creating community resources that strengthen social life and stability

The Cypress Hill facility’s first activities included short training workshops, which continue. Cypress Hill is now poised to become a unique institution in the small town of Monduli.

Teachers and students are invited to use the library’s book to support the school curriculum, as well as individual interests. All have access to a general collection of stimulating useful books on many subjects. The computer promises to become an important site of research, learning, and fun. When the new restaurant is complete, families can enjoy meals right on the premises as they use the playgrounds. As a Community Center, it is a new kind of social setting for the community.

Families will enjoy food and play on the grounds. It will be a new kind of social setting for the community, as well as a center for learning.