In Ethiopia, one of the most popular staple foods
is injera (household bread) which is a large flat
pancake eaten by the majority of Ethiopians at least
once a day. Injera baking is the most energy-intensive
activity in Ethiopia. It accounts for over 50% of
all primary energy consumption in the country and
over 75% of the total energy consumed in households.
The food is so popular that the average family burns
around 20 kilogrammes of wood a week just making injera.
Traditional injera baking has unique requirements.
Injera needs a quick, fast heat, evenly distributed
over a 60 centimetre ceramic plate called a mtad'.
The flat plate mtad' is balanced upon three stones
above the open fire and fuel is fed under the mtad
from all directions. While this produces hot, fast
flames which are essential for good injera, the energy
consumption is highly inefficient - approximately
93% of the fuel is wasted - unsafe and unhealthy.
Injera baking is an unpleasant and dangerous activity.
Highly flammable fuels, such as leaves and twigs,
are used by cooks to achieve the high heat necessary
to cook injera quickly and these often flare out as
they ignite, causing injury through burns. Large amounts
of smoke are produced by these fires and many women
complain about stinging eyes and coughing.
The Mirte stove has been specifically designed to
cook injera. By enclosing the fire, the smoke is removed
which cuts down on weeping eyes; the stove reduces
the chance of getting burned because there is no longer
a risk of back flashes from fuel as it ignites and
there are no dancing flames; it is clean and modern;
it saves energy and reduces the expenditure on fuel
because it only uses half the amount of fuelwood as
the traditional fire.
The Mirte stove can be produced either on a large-scale
by mechanical means, or on a small-scale by hand.
Hand production is ideal for the Mirte because it
encourages decentralised production and therefore,
expands the geographic range of the product. The cost
of the stoves reduces as the number of producers increases.
The mirte stove is a
multi-section stove made from moulds - one mould is
used for the four pieces of the main stove and two
moulds are used for the chimney rest. The stove is
made using lightweight materials and can be assembled
and disassembled in order to be moved or transported
The Mirte stove was originally designed using light
weight pumice with cement in a ratio of 5:1. Although
pumice is a major source for constructing building
materials in Addis Ababa and other areas in the Rift
Valley, it is not found everywhere in Ethiopia.
Another common material that is more widely found
than pumice, especially in the northern areas, and
is used extensively in the building materials industry,
is scoria or red ash. In areas where no pumice or
scoria is found, sand and cement are used. Compared
to traditional injera baking, all these materials
improve the efficiencies of the stove by nearly 100%
in household use and fuel consumption is reduced by
The scoria-cement mix is proving to be extremely popular
with the consumers in Addis Ababa because it is cheaper
to produce than the pumice-cement mix stove, and it
also increases the robustness and durability of the
the Mirte Stove
In an attempt to save Ethiopia's scarce forestry resources,
the Mirte has been adapted to cook injera using fuels
other than wood, for example, dung and agricultural
residues, such as sawdust and coffee husk waste. With
the exception of animal dung, the Mirte performed
as well with other fuels and materials as with the
original woody biomass pumice-cement stove design.
the Mirte Stove
The Mirte is now commercially produced in a dozen
areas in Ethiopia by over 30 production units, employing
over one hundred people. Nearly, 50,000 stoves have
been sold since mid 1995 and 30,000 of these have
been sold since April 1997. The popularity of the
Mirte stove is expanding rapidly to small urban and
rural areas, and over one third of the stoves have
been produced and sold outside Addis Ababa. The major
demand for these stoves is in the rural north of Ethiopia
where woody biomass is very scarce.
Women have been active participants in the production,
sale and installation of Mirte stoves. In fact, one
in three Mirte producers are women. The stove needs
to be installed in households by trained artisans
and many women have been trained to carry out this
task. They are also the primary beneficiaries of the
improved stoves, both as household cooks and as small-scale
commercial injera bakers who bake and sell from their
homes and often depend on injera baking as their sole
source of income.
The Mirte stove was designed specifically to cook
injera in Ethiopia and provides a safe, healthy and
fuel efficient alternative to cooking over an open
fire. However, it would be possible to adapt the stove
to meet cooking requirements in other countries while
maintaining its benefits in health, safety and fuel
For further information,
P.O. Box 180884
Tel: +251 1 613395
Alastair Gill ESD Limited
Overmoor Farm Neston
SN13 9TZ England
Tel: +44 (0) 1225 812102
Fax: +44 (0) 1225 812103
ITDG would like to thank Energy for Sustainable Development
(ESD) - and in particular Mike Bess.
This programme is one in a series of five about what
women, often in very challenging circumstances, are
build better lives for themselves and their families.
TVE/ITDG gratefully acknowledge support for the HANDS
ON programmes from the UK's Department for International
Development (DFID), the European Commission (EC),
the UN Foundation and UNDP/The Equator Initiative
in collaboration with the Government of Canada, IDRC,
IUCN, BrasilConnects and the Nature Conservancy.