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Tanzanian Blacksmiths’ innovative tree-saving stoves win international green energy prize

At a ceremony in London, the Ashen Award, the world’s leading green energy prize awarded £20,000 to the Kisingani Smith Group (KSG), a pioneering sustainable energy project working in Njombe near the Southern highlands of Tanzania.
The Ashden Awards prize was presented to Reuben Patrick Mtitu, Chair and Director of KSG, by Kenyan Nobel Prize laureate Wangari Maathai.

The Kisingani Blacksmiths have trained 120 young people to build efficient stoves that burn sawdust from local timber businesses and improved wood stoves – 3,500 have been sold since 2005. Locals can pay back the stove’s cost in a few months and save on charcoal and wood. Alongside this work KSG has planted over 100 hectares of fuel wood plantation and 24 hectares of restored indigenous forest. Many trainees have gone on to set up clean stove enterprises in other areas.

Sarah Butler-Sloss, founder and chair of the Ashden Awards said: “We are delighted to be recognising the extraordinary work of KSG, whose members have not benefited from higher education, or extensive external support. They have simply used their practical abilities and commitment to make a difference – giving skills and income-generation potential to young people, and developing and selling effective wood-saving stoves, using designs which could be followed by any blacksmith.”

Accepting the report on behalf of KSG, John and Reuben Mtitu said: “Our Ashden Award is not just an acknowledgement of KSG, but a support to help us invest and scale up our scheme, and ensure its sustainability. Our plan is to produce 40,000 more stoves by 2012.”

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of The Ashden Awards, personally congratulated this year’s Ashden Awards winners at a separate meeting. A Clarence House spokesperson said: "The Prince of Wales was deeply encouraged to learn of the solutions demonstrated by the Ashden Awards that can reduce our dependency on a carbon economy. His Royal Highness was particularly impressed by the local sustainable energy initiatives recognised and promoted by the Awards, which not only meet the needs of communities, but tackle climate change and further sustainable development."

Additional information: Ashden Awards
News date: 19/06/2008

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