Cookstove Project

RPCVCO Partners with Peace Corps and Trees, Water and People on Clean Cookstove Project in El Salvador

The Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Colorado launched a Clean Cookstove Project in El Salvador in partnership with Peace Corps and Trees, Water and People in 2011 in honor of the 50th anniversary of Peace Corps.

In a project deemed the first of its kind, RPCVCO connected a local nonprofit organization (Trees, Water and People) to currently serving volunteers in El Salvador. RPCVCO was the funding partner, raising money to fully fund this project for one year.

Trees Water & People

Trees, Water & People is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1998 by Stuart Conway (RPCV Guatemala 84-87) focused on helping communities protect, conserve, and manage the natural resources upon which their long-term well-being depends. TWP develops and manages continuing reforestation, watershed protection, renewable energy, appropriate technology, and environmental education programs in Latin America and the American West.

Clean Cookstoves

Since the inception of the fuel-efficient stove program in Latin America, TWP has worked with its partners to develop different models of stoves. This allows TWP to test out new manufacturing methods and new materials; it allows them to continuously refine the efficiency of the stoves; and gives people in program countries choices in stove costs.

The Justa stove, named in honor of co-developer Doña Justa Nunez, is essentially an insulated masonry box. The key to the higher combustion rates and efficiency achieved by this stove is the "Rocket elbow," created by Aprovecho engineer Larry Winiarski. This L-shaped combustion chamber allows wood to burn up to 70% more efficiently. The body of the stove may be constructed from brick or cinder block, and is insulated with wood ash or other locally available material. The stove is topped with a removable metal cooking surface, or plancha. A built-in chimney vents harmful gases and particulates from the kitchen.

Local Training Partner

TWP had a local training partner in El Salvador, Arboles y Agua para El Pueblo, which conducted a regional training workshop on how to build clean cookstoves in communities in which Peace Corps Volunteers were currently serving. Volunteers brought one counterpart to the training, and then returned to site to organize their own trainings with their local communities.

Much of the material needed to build the stove could be found inexpensively at site, but individual Peace Corps Volunteers also sought further funding through Peace Corps Partnership grants to provide additional financial resources to their communities.


The Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Colorado committed to funding the first year of this training program, with the hopes of continuing beyond the celebration of the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary in 2011. The budget was approximately $3,000, which paid for 1 regional workshop, with 15 total volunteers trained, and 20 local community leaders trained. The budget amount covered the cost of travel and accommodations for the training, as well as materials and supplies for each person to build a stove during the training.

In order to raise money for this project, RPCVCO sold two commissioned prints in honor of the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary. The two prints, entitled Hand of Peace, and Tree of Peace are stil available for purchase on our website and the proceeds benefit our ongoing projects.


If you have any questions about the cookstove project, please Contact Us (select Information).