Day 11
A family in Guatemala can cook without smoke for a month

Efficient cookers instead of open fire Efficient cookers instead of open fire

Efficient stoves keep women and children healthy

In the highlands of Guatemala, many families use an open fire in their huts to cook. The walls are woven from branches or cobbled together from simple boards. This allows the smoke to escape, but it also spreads it to every corner of the hut. This smoke has detrimental health effects, especially for the eyes and respiratory system of children. The pediatrician Aroldo Ixcot, a member of the Maya tribe of K'iche', explains: “The child mortality rate in Guatemala is the highest in Central America. Among other factors, this is due to a high prevalence of pneumonia. Newly born babies are often placed right next to the open hearth all day to keep them warm. This exposes them to smoke for many hours, which can result in dangerous infections.”



Efficient cookers for Maya families in Guatemala who until now have been cooking on open fires.



The Welthaus in Bielefeld installs cookers worth 120 euros a piece in the kitchens of families in need. They themselves pay a share of 25 euros.

Countable effort


Number of efficient cookers that can be installed with the donated money.



Fewer respiratory illnesses from almost smoke-free cooking. Families spend less time and money on getting firewood.

Systemic effect


Improved health of Maya families. The forest can regenerate.


The indigenous Mayas in Guatemala are especially affected by severe poverty, but although they represent about half of the population, their needs are mostly ignored by the government. Many Maya families rely on firewood as a cooking fuel, and the open fires inside their living quarters are particularly detrimental to the health of women and children.

Respiratory illnesses are the most common cause of child mortality in Guatemala: In about one third of cases, pneumonia is seen to be the cause of death. Inflammation of the eyes and burns are also very common. Furthermore, open fires are very inefficient and use up a lot of wood, which results in formerly wooded areas now being deforested.

The good deed

In collaboration with the families, the Welthaus in Bielefeld installs efficient cookers inside the huts. The smoke is channeled outside the living space by a chimney, which improves air quality within them. Also, the cookers reduce the demand for firewood by 70 per cent. That spares the forest and saves time, effort and money.


Guatemala City

Guatemala City


16 582 500

16 582 500

Number of inhabitants

4 089

4 089

Gross domestic product per capita per year



Human Development Index

Mayas in Guatemala are often treated unfairly. They speak their own languages, so when they need to go to hospital, they tend not to be understood.

About the organization and further information


Welthaus Bielefeld


Further information and source