OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Saving the infants from wood smoke

The smell of wood smoke evokes fond memories for many people, but for others it has become a danger signal. Wood smoke, has become a major part of the air pollution problem in Uganda especially in Luweero district. A once fertile land, which knew no famine or lack but in 1986 it’s an area of war many lives were lost and children died of starvation. As the area healed the area is still characterized with more of grandmothers’ and children less than 5 years. Grand mothers have once again become mothers and more recent the district ranged high in teenage pregnancy of about 8%. The particles in wood smoke are too small to be filtered by the nose and upper respiratory system, so they wind up deep in the lungs and cause congestion.

Photo of Pamella Sunday
9 6

Written by

Building of indoor permeant clay molded stoves in the homes of the grandmothers will mitigate short and long term effects which include; pneumonia in children which is one of the leading causes of death in children less than 5 years, critical bronchitis, Asthmatic attacks and in grandmothers in the long run cause lung cancer and hypertensive.

This model of building the indoor stove I believe will succeed because the stove contains the smoke with less emission of smoke from the woods which will reduce or eliminate the progression of the disease of pneumonia, asthma, cancers and hypertensive

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

The beneficiaries of this project will be the children less than 5 years and the grandmothers who are already weak in Uganda in Luweero District

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

The model will be tested by building 2 stoves in households of grandmothers taking care of children of less than 5 years.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

I will need the help of village health teams who are in each country in the country, volunteers, local leaders and the community for acceptance to the project.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am ready and interested in testing this idea and making it real in my community.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Daniel Martinez da Cruz

Yea i remember reading about the effects of smoke, and how some children really struggle to sleep at night and continuously cough!

On my page, the team has come up with the concept of JAMBO. I really think it would be a great opportunity to include your plans into one of our educational books! Maybe we can collaborate and build on eachother? Come take a look at my page and check out the teams work!

Been great read.


Photo of David Citrin

Thanks, Pamella. Built with locally available resources, as people do in Nepal where we work, smokeless stoves are often built with less than $15 US dollars, and can be constructed and dried in 2-3 days.

Photo of Pamella Sunday

Thanks David for the insight to building the local stove, how long it takes and the cost. Currently i have offered to pilot it in one of the grandmothers home.

Photo of Sharon Nakanwagi

Pamela,this is spot on,we have had serious challenges of smoke in our rural areas.I believe many lives will be saved in their early stages of life. Surprisingly we never really give so much thought to it yet smoke is a serious potential danger for the little ones.The children are always around their mothers and grandmothers while cooking as they are put on the back and are inhaling all this smoke with their undeveloped delicate lungs.Surely we need to do something about this.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Indeed – this is a serious issue in many parts of the world – and one that many NGO's and designers have worked on – with varying degrees of long term success. Could be good to explore some of these with the aim of seeing what you can learn as you progress with your own idea in Uganda. Here's some insights on an project that may provide some lessons for your onwards strides to impact: Looking forward to hearing how your early testing goes and what human-centered insights your gather along the way.

Photo of Kalema Daniel

PAM its a great idea but i was suggesting if you couple it with making briqquete making so that they do not use firewood i think here smoke will be completely eliminated ,think about it if it is a good idea.

Photo of Pamella Sunday

Thanks Daniel, oh that is a great idea. guys out there does any one have information about briqquete, how they are locally made. This could be a good idea to explore.

Photo of Joy Nannyunja

True Pam, people in that area are suffering a lot, and remember they also cook in grass thatched houses which are even more dangerous as they accumulate soot which is even more infectious when it drops.

Photo of Joseph Kalibbala

Sharon you just picked my mind this is spot on, a problem that has been affecting people.