This blog was written by Jussa M Kudherezera from Zimbabwe. He founded Manica Youth Assembly (MAYA), a youth-based community organization advocating for peace, environmental protection and rectifying social injustices. MAYA empowers youths to take up governance issues.

The rate at which deforestation is occurring here will transform Zimbabwe into an outright desert in just 35 years if pragmatic solutions are not found immediately and if people continue to raze trees for firewood without regulation. Developing countries rely heavily on wood fuel, the major energy source for cooking and heating. Inter Press Service News Agency 2020 postulates that, in Africa, the statistics are exceptional: an estimated 90 percent of the entire continent’s population uses wood as fuel for cooking, and in sub-Saharan Africa, firewood and brush supply approximately 52 percent of all energy sources.
Deforestation is primarily caused by the activities of the general population
As the Zimbabwe economy plummets, indigenous timber merchants are on the rise, battling to eke out a living, with environmentalists accusing them of accelerating deforestation. Given the backdrop of increasing electricity outages in Zimbabwe, many people have resorted to buying firewood from vendors at local market stalls, or transporter trucks. The source of this firewood is trees from Fern Valley, Dangamvura Mountains and farms neighboring the city of Mutare.
Today, Manica Youth Assembly (MAYA) expresses its gratitude and profound thanks to World Solar Fund and Peace SOS for the two eco-friendly stoves and solar lights that we recently received. The stoves are very convenient, eco-friendly, safe, fuel-efficient and user-friendly. They are also handy because they are not just for cooking but they can also light up the home using the accompanying LED light, as well as charge cell phones, making it a wonderful utility gadget for the home. Children can now easily study at night without the danger of burning down the house using candles.
Additionally, because the stoves use only a small amount of dry wood chips, offcuts or sawdust, they pollute the environment much less than wood, and cause fewer health problems.
At MAYA we now call the stove the ‘Freedom Stove’

because the stoves can free women and children from walking long distances to fetch firewood, free women from the being abused by police and Environmental Management Agent (EMA) officials, and from the risk of being arrested for wood poaching. The stoves are healthier as they emit very little smoke, giving women, children and even men time to concentrate on productive economic activities rather than fetching wood. This is freedom.

MAYA is an environmentally-sensitive organization and wants to share this technology with vulnerable communities to mitigate the multi-faceted, wood-based fuel challenges that women and children in low-income urban and rural areas of Mutare face on a daily basis. Community volunteers and our other members will be trained to train others to use renewable energy sustainably for the benefit of future generations. Because Manicaland as a province is blessed to have sunshine throughout the year, the use of solar energy is highly recommended as a replacement for firewood.
We very much appreciate the help that our partners have given us and we pledge to continue working with you to combat deforestation and climate change.