National Energy Globe Award Guatemala (overall winner)

Submitted by: HELPS International
Implemented country: Guatemala
Title: Leaving Poverty Behind through Safer Cooking with Gas Cookers

Actually, Donald O’Neal is retired. A mechanical engineer by training, he did not want to spend his time doing nothing and so he decided to help with projects that would improve poverty in Guatemala and Mexico. Traveling around with a medical team he saw many people with severe burn injuries. As the indigenous population still prepares meals on an open fire, bad accidents happen over and over again. But Donald also noticed something else. Many women and children suffer from respiratory problems because of breathing in the smoke. Also, many of them have to walk long distances to gather firewood. So Donald had an idea. He studied the cooking habits of the people and designed a stove that would meet their needs by requiring very little wood and showing a flexible and portable design. A flue pipe allows the dangerous smoke to go outside. The danger of getting burn injuries is reduced.
The ONIL Stove works with 70 per cent firewood. Because of its efficiency it saves the women 2 working hours a day, thus giving them the opportunity to escape the poverty spiral. 530 ONIL stoves a week are manufactured in two factories in Mexico and Guatemala and financed through the HELPS organization as well as several NGOs. It took two years to design the stoves and today more than 100,000 stoves are in use. However, more than a million of them are needed. To keep the project going, the stoves are sold at a small profit to NGOs whose members are then trained in building and running the ONIL stove.
Donald O’Neil is proud – not only of his five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, but also of the fact that his invention has helped many families improve their quality of living as well as their health. In addition, rural Central America is saving 16,030,500 euros a year, plus one tree a month per stove, and two working hours a day for women and children. Also let us not forget the prevention of pain and disfigurement of children getting burned on open fires. Will Donald O’Neil now take time to enjoy his hobbies of skiing, hiking and photography? Hardly. He is still working for . HELPS, always fighting for a good cause.

"The only thing that is sustainable in extreme poverty is poverty itself. We must break the cycle."

Donald O’Neal

Category: Fire