Changing Behaviors in Guatemala Through Education, Advocacy, and Soap Operas
The Global Alliance, the Cluster for Improved Cookstoves, and Clean Fuels of Guatemala have launched a campaign designed to increase adoption of cleaner, more efficient cookstoves in the department of Sacatepequez. The “Campaign for Clean Cookstoves” was created to increase awareness of the ill effects of cooking with open fires while also advocating for the use of cleaner cookstoves available in that department. Approximately 70% of Guatemala’s population uses firewood for cooking, which can harm health and cause significant impacts on the environment, including deforestation, air pollution and climate change.
Using the slogan “If I am sick or die, who will take care of my children!”, the campaign is building awareness among families still using wood as their main energy source, in hopes that they will seek cleaner cooking solutions that use firewood or LPG. These stoves will decrease the levels of harmful smoke in the homes and save fuel and money while also protecting the environment.
Love and Cookstoves
Using an entertaining and humorous love story, the campaign revolves around a radio soap opera called “My Neighborhood’s Smoke.” The star of the show is Doña Blanqui, the market lady who is tuned in to all of the town gossip, who passes information to the ladies of the town about the negative effects that cooking with a stove without a chimney has. Between gossip updates, she also talks about the advantages of changing to an improved cookstove. Along the way, Doña Blanqui also finds love in a suprising place. Each episode features messages that will enable the community to envision the daily life of women in Sacatepequez. The program is planned to include a weekly chapter aired on the four most heard radio stations in the department, as well as on Facebook (/estufasmejoradas).
Mayors from several municipalities of Sacatepequez will be supporting the campaign and helping to promote change from open fires to improved cookstoves. “This initiative not only will help the families in my municipality improve their health and livelihood, it also is in line with our efforts of reforestation. For every tree that is harvested, 10 more will be planted,” said the mayor of Sacatepequez.
Several ministries and government institutions of Guatemala, such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Energy and Mines, Forestry Institute, and the National Competitiveness Program, will closely follow the campaign as it directly touches on the mission statements for each organization. The campaign has already seen early successes with more than 30 families already purchasing new cookstoves during the two-day launch event.