WildLeaks, the First Secure & Anonymous Platform for Wildlife Crime Whistleblowers


Although it’s now clear that wildlife and forest trafficking has far reaching national and international security and economic implications, many governments tend to see the problem as just an environmental issue and the global fight against wildlife and forest crime is not giving the expected results.

New and innovative approaches are urgently needed and the global civil society can now play its part with WildLeaks.

WildLeaks is a nonprofit collaborative project created & funded by the Elephant Action League (EAL) and managed in collaboration with a group of very experienced individuals, which includes the directors of environmental investigation NGOs, environmental lawyers, accredited journalists, security professionals and ex-law enforcement officers.

Rhino South Africa courtesy Elephant Action League

The Mission of WildLeaks is to receive and evaluate anonymous information regarding wildlife and forest crimes and transform them into actionable items. The submission system is entirely based on the use of the Tor technology, which is integrated in the platform and allows the sources to stay anonymous and to submit sensitive information in a very secure way, always encrypted, in respect to data transmission and management.

The priorities of WildLeaks are to prevent wildlife crime and to facilitate the 

identification, arrest and prosecution of criminals, traffickers, businessmen and corrupt governmental officials behind the poaching of endangered species and the trafficking of wildlife and forest products.

Wildlife crimes very often go undetected and unchallenged when people do not speak up about them, and whistleblowers can play a crucial role in fighting back, creating awareness and doing justice. 

The first 3-month pilot phase of WildLeaks, launched in February 2014, offers us the opportunity to evaluate this tool, have a look at its first results, get precious feedbacks and suggestions, and show how it could support the efforts of the international community in fighting wildlife crime.

Andrea Crosta is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the California based Elephant Action League (EAL) and the Founder and Project Leader of WildLeaks.

Since 1989 he has been involved in a variety of conservation and research projects in Africa, Asia, South America and Europe supported by a private Italian foundation.


For over 15 years he has been working also as an international consultant to companies and governmental agencies on high-end security services, homeland security, investigations and risk management, a unique knowledge that he now applies to conservation and wildlife protection. 
As an entrepreneur, in 1998 he founded ‘Think Italy’, one of the very first e-commerce companies in Italy.

In 2010-2012 he was a part of the 2-man team that uncovered the link between the ivory trade and the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab.

Find the full presentation slides and Storify thread via this link here.

William Fowlds

An Account of the Life-Changing Realities of Rhino Poaching

Dr. Will Fowlds gave a talk highlighting his personal accounts with organized wildlife crime and response to the poaching crisis


South Africa’s rhino crisis forms a major component of the global, illegal, trade in wildlife. The poaching and the organised crime networks directing them, threaten to have a significant negative effect on conservation, crime and controlled governance in the region. 
My conservation involvement until three years ago was focused on developing multi-stakeholder protected areas and fulfilling my passion as a wildlife vet through clinical work and education. This all changed when I became intimately affected by the implications of poaching through the rhino I have been called to, and who had survived being mutilated. At the time, very little was understood about the poaching methods or the systems driving these brutal criminal acts. I recorded the first ever live footage of a poaching survivor in Feb 2011 and my personal accounts of these incidences have taken me into spaces within media, politics, environmental governance and corporate social responsibility, where I would not have chosen to go


About Dr. Fowlds

Dr. Will Fowld is a wildlife veterinarian in South Africa. His conservation experience is rooted in the conversion of a fifth generation family owned domestic farm, along with neighboring properties into what is now known as the Amakhala Game Reserve. One of the privileges in Will’s professional life is to work with Rhino around the Eastern Cape reserves and to get to know them as individuals.  

 William Fowlds

Will travels to the East and to the West sharing his personal testimony of the brutal reality of poaching from the coal face as well as efforts to bring back rhino from the brink of death with his pioneering veterinary care. He has partnered with Investec in the form of Investec Rhino Lifeline to enable him to increase his work in the areas of rescue, education and prevention, and to impact on the environmental crisis in these watershed times. He is supported by the Wilderness Foundation and collaborates on rhino related projects through them.  


He spends part of his time facilitating courses which connect students from around the world with the diversity of African wildlife. He studied veterinary science through Onderstepoort in Pretoria.

Find the event slideshow here.

On the Wings of Robots: The Ups and Downs of Using UAVs for Conservation

On Wednesday April 2nd 2014, ABCG convened a meeting, hosted at the World Wildlife Fund, U.S., on the rapidly expanding technology of unmanned aerial monitoring, data gathering, and other aspects in biodiversity conservation. With a diverse panel of seven experienced specialists facilitated by John Waugh of Integra LLC, the meeting was open to the public and covered topics including integrating technologies to combat wildlife crime, detecting sparse populations of key species, to X-prize style UAV systems development competitions, and beefing law enforcement from the air with Synthetic-aperture radar equipped UAVs.

A complete webinar recording can be watched by clicking here.

Meeting Objectives

Specifically, the meeting covered the following points:

  • To review the scope of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) currently in use in conservation
  • Understand the conservation opportunities that UAVs provide and the technical specifications needed
  • Identify opportunities for collaboration between conservationists, engineers, and UAV specialists
  • Explore the concerns about increased use of UAVs in conservation, security and human rights



Natalie Bailey, ABCG Coordinator, kicked off the event with a brief overview of the ABCG collaboration and introduced John Waugh, who moderated the meeting.

WWF Wildlife Crime Technology Project: integrating technologies to combat poaching


Colby Loucks, WWF-US


Given the overwhelming threat to elephants, rhinos and tigers, WWF began its Wildlife Crime Technology Project with funding from a Google Global Impact Award. Our approach was to create an umbrella of technology to protect wildlife. This project presents an opportunity to integrate new technologies – such as UAVs – in our work to adapt and implement specialized aerial and ground-based surveillance systems and ranger patrolling to increase the detection and deterrence of poaching in pilot sites in Asia and Africa. WWF’s Wildlife Crime Technology Project will be implemented over a three year period in African and Asian sites. Namibia was selected as the first site for testing during the first phase of the project. In close collaboration with the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism, we focused on proving the concept of technology systems integration, installation, and operational training.


Virtual Vultures: promising partners in conservation on land and at sea


David Wilkie, Wildlife Conservation Society


The Wildlife Conservation Society believes that UAVs may offer novel ways to extend the effectiveness of our current conservation efforts at little additional cost. This presentation offers a brief summary of WCS “pilot-less” tests of UAVs by our field staff and collaborators and offers suggestions for future directions in the use of UAVs to effect conservation.


Monitoring Chimpanzees and Community Conservation Success in Western Tanzania: The Potential Role of UAVs


Lilian Pintea, Jane Goodall Institute


The Greater Gombe and Mahale Ecosystem is more than 20,000 km2 area in western Tanzania. It has been estimated that over 90% of Tanzania’s chimpanzee population is found within this ecosystem. The major threats to chimpanzees are: conversion of habitats into food crops and agricultural land, deliberate killing by humans including snares, disease due to pathogens introduced by humans, incompatible charcoal production, incompatible development and expansion of settlements, incompatible extraction of firewood and logging for timber and human-ignited fires. In order to address these threats, the Jane Goodall Institute and partners have been engaged in facilitating the establishment of community-based organizations, developing bylaws and building local capacity to develop and implement village land-use plans and manage newly established Village Forest Reserves. Areas in western Tanzania are also one of the driest, most open habitats in which chimpanzees occur and the chimpanzees of this region live at extremely low densities and exhibit extremely large home ranges. This presentation will discuss: a) lessons learned from applying UAVs to improve detection of chimpanzee nests in order to improve survey estimates; and b) the potential of using UAVs with the local communities to monitor implementation of their village land use plans and protect and restore Village Forest Reserves.


Wildlife Conservation UAV challenge


Aliyah Pandolfi, Kashmir World Foundation


Aliyah Pandolfi founded the first annual worldwide Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge to inspire people around the world to collaborate and innovate UAV technology solutions for counter—poaching. It is the fastest—growing, largest and most diverse challenge in the shortest period of time. Teams from all over the world are competing in the challenge to build the most innovative and cost—effective unmanned aerial vehicles which will combat the growing crime of animal poaching.


Out of Darkness—Into the Light


Joseph Campagna, Artemis Inc.


Discussion on Synthetic Aperture Radar as a game changing technology in locating and tracking anyone who thinks they can hide in the cover of night, clouds and forests. Using the world’s only compact-portable, all weather multiband SAR, we are now able to provide law enforcement, governments and organizations accurate detailed information to stop the poaching of elephants, track down the illegal fishing ships and warn our peacekeepers of areas of imminent danger.


UAV-Oriented Detection of Under the Canopy Poaching Crimes Based on Single Photon Counting Image Arrays and Standoff Laser Spectroscopy


Isaac Shpantzer, Ph.D. Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Optix Medical


By using lasers and photon counting imagining arrays developed at Lincoln Labs and Raytheon on can take an image under the canopy to detect poachers, elephants and various endangered species. By using standoff laser-based, digital, pulsed photo-thermal interferometric spectroscopy one can detect from afar the characteristic signature of poachers’ crimes scenes. These UAV-based combined technologies can enable conservation professionals and wildlife authorities in Africa and Asia fight poaching crime effectively.

Eco-Drones: Potential Applications and Best Practices from a Geospatial Framework Approach


Nadine Trahan, Gaia Spatial, LLC


Rapidly declining biodiversity and the quality and quantity of habitat and natural resources necessitates urgency for innovative ideas, cutting edge technology and creative approaches to advance scientific understanding of how natural systems function and strengthen conservation, restoration and sustainable development strategies. Eco-drones offer significant potential toward this end. Eco-drone is defined here as an unmanned aerial system (UAS) comprising hardware and software components and operating procedures designed to capture, store, transfer, and process geospatial data that is readily available for visual and/or digital analysis to support socio-environmental applications.

“Potential” is the operative word here, as only a few applications across the range of possibilities have been well tested and documented. In order to realize and advance eco-drone potential, the proven technological components must be matched, integrated, and field tested in conjunction with project specific objectives and site specific logistics. If individual projects are to be successful in their own right and contribute to the wider body of knowledge and solutions, eco-drone planners and operators must have a coherent understanding of the role this technology plays in environmental research and management at large. This presentation aims to contribute toward the development of best practices for achieving these goals.



Conserving a Species, while Caring about Individuals

Jane Goodall’s philosophy of ‘Every Individual Matters’ has been a core foundation for our Africa Programs at the Jane Goodall Institute.  In each country we work in, we consider the plight of individual chimpanzees, along with that of communities and populations.  A case example is Congo Republic, where we have worked for over two decades.  The original efforts centered around the welfare of individuals that had been confiscated or surrendered over to authorities.  In the past 20 years, more than 200 individuals have been brought to the Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center.  In the last 5 years, as the country has politically stabilized, we have been able to expand our focus on public awareness, education and habitat protection with positive results.   Conservation of any species, will only be achieved when local stakeholders value and respect the targeted species.  Our commitment to individuals, provides an important platform for engaging local stakeholders to consider their actions and interactions with other species.  The results of our public awareness campaign is indicating that a change is taking place and our efforts have not been in vain.  Results show a drop from 26% of confiscations originating from the southern Province of Kouilou over a 20 year period, to 0% in the last five years, since the implementation of our education and public awareness programs and street surveys. These results indicate an appreciation and understanding of why apes need to be protected by the general public.  

About the speaker

Debby Cox currently serves as the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) te  chnical advisor supporting various program areas, particularly in the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  Since 2009, Cox has helped JGI’s country directors within sub-Saharan Africa develop programs  to alleviate the threats to chimpanzee survival.

Debby started her career in chimpanzee captive management at Taronga Zoo, Australia in 1986. In 1994, Debby volunteered in Burundi at the Jane Goodall Institute’s halfway house for confiscated chimpanzees. She returned as the Co-director in 1994-1995. After translocating the chimps to Kenya she then went onto Uganda to establish a sanctuary for this country at the request of the Institute and the Government of Uganda. Cox assumed the role of executive director of JGI-Uganda.  Cox worked diligently with a wide array of Ugandan government officials and private donors to create what has become the Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.


Cox, who received her masters in science from Australia National University in 2004, is a founding member of the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) and was a driving force behind its creation.  She continues to be a member of the alliance’s Advisory Council. From 2004, Debby has been a committee member of the IUCN Great Ape Specialist group under the Primate Specialist Group.  In 2008, Debby was elected to the position of Vice President for Captive Care of the International Primatogolical Society.  She also received the Order of Australia award in the general division in 2009.

Cox is an integral part of the management of JGI’s Tchimpounga Rehabilitation Center in the Republic of Congo. Her work at the sanctuary includes supporting the site’s expansion to three nearby islands and continues to support JGIs Africa Program meets its goal.
Photo courtesy of Francis Tarla Garoua Wildlife College (EFG) in Cameroon

Recent Activities and Challenges facing Garoua Wildlife College in Cameroon–Training Wildlife Professionals in Central and West Africa: Garoua Wildlife College in Cameroon

Garoua Wildlife College (EFG) was created in Cameroon in 1970 to provide in-service wildlife training for francophone government agencies in sub-Saharan Africa.  Since its inception, EFG has trained over 1300 students from 24 different countries. EFG is the only regional wildlife college serving French-speaking Africa, playing a unique role in developing key competencies in wildlife management throughout the sub-region. 

Photo courtesy of Francis Tarla Garoua Wildlife College (EFG) in Cameroon
Photo courtesy of Francis Tarla Garoua Wildlife College (EFG) in Cameroon


Former EFG Director Francis Tarla will share both the challenges and opportunities that EFG faces in achieving its mission. Financial and human resources are both challenging, but the need for services that EFG provides remains great. The region is under great threat from complex transborder poaching and wildlife crime. Support from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Last Great Ape organization(LAGA) are helping to further develop the capacity of EFG in addressing wildlife crime. 

Press release: USFWS & Garoua Conservation Capacity Building Program 

Saving Great Apes: Measuring Success in Changing Attitudes & Behaviors

Filmmaker and INCEF Founder Cynthia Moses discussed how the project reached audiences with 80 to 90 percent illiteracy to change behaviors, measure retained increase of knowledge and changes in attitudes over time and gathering indications of behavioral change.

Cynthia Moses is an award winning Wildlife Filmmaker.  Her work in Africa and around the world motivated her to become more involved in creating communication tools for low resource populations. As founder of the International Conservation and Education Fund (INCEF) for the past 10 years, she has overseen a mission to integrate conservation and health and development issues through grassroots video centered outreach education. Her goal was to place a premium on the importance of communications that would be appropriate for the most remote and marginalized audiences in on behalf of broad ecosystem preservation including improved health, education, gender equality, economic growth and more. INCEF’s specific methodology has developed and institutionalized a media production and dissemination capability within the partnering NGOs’ education and advocacy programs.

Its completed projects have yielded more than 80 films, all of which comply with the organizations principles of local control and execution.  These have been viewed by 10’s of thousands of low resource village dwellers through community level screenings including intense and unprecedented group discussions of problems based on shared experience under the supervision of trained outreach educator.
Estelle Raballand, CCC

The Role of the NGO Chimpanzee Conservation Center in the Protection of the Haut Niger National Park GUINEA

The Centre de Conservation pour Chimpanzés, or Chimpanzee Conservation Center (CCC), is the only chimpanzee sanctuary in Guinea, West Africa. This center is located in the Parc National du Haut Niger (PNHN), one of the two national parks in the country and a priority site for the conservation of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus). Estelle Raballand, CCCThe CCC is a Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) – affiliated sanctuary, which currently cares for and rehabilitates, in groups, 43 rescued chimpanzees, primarily victims of the pet trade which are confiscated by the national authorities. In adherence with the IUCN Guidelines for Great Ape Reintroductions, the CCC successfully released in 2008 their first group of chimpanzees in a selected site within the core area of the Mafou forest in the PNHN, which also harbors a population of wild conspecifics. This release project is only the second of its kind in Africa. Additional chimpanzees were released in 2010 to reinforce the first release group. Since 2007, with the release in mind, the CCC has successfully boosted the national and local governmental authorities’ commitment to restore protection and law enforcement measures and initiatives and to curtail illegal activities ongoing within the park. The CCC works alongside its partners to improve respect for and recognition of the rights and value of great apes in Guinea, a stronghold for wild chimpanzees in West Africa. The CCC has successfully protected the north and western part of the PNHN – Mafou, which is home to approximately 500 wild chimpanzees. They are currently hoping to expand technical and logistical support to the newly trained and dispatched eco-guards to ensure effective implementation of the PNHN protection plan, enhance communication between all stakeholders involved in the PNHN, and insure that CCC becomes more sustainable as an organization. CCC has received funding from the USFWS Great Ape Conservation Fund for activities in 2008-2009 and again in 2011.
About Estelle  
Estelle Raballand has been the director of the Chimpanzee Conservation Center (CCC) since 1999 at the Government of Guinea demand. CCC/Greyo-PilletShe has worked with chimpanzees since 1994 in four different countries. She’s also a vet technician specialized in emergency medicine. She’s been fundraising, managing and been the driving force and an active player in the release, protection and education programs of the CCC. She’s also the president of Project Primate, Inc. a US NGO, funding the CCC.

Find the accompanying slide show presentation here.

A Guide to Planning, Developing and Coordinating Mutually Beneficial Project Activities in Freshwater Conservation and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

On December 11, 2013 U.S. Water Partnership members, Conservation International, Millennium Water Alliance, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) joined the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) at the World Wildlife Fund offices for the launch of the Freshwater Conservation and water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Integration Guidelines: A Framework for Implementation in sub-Saharan Africa.

Healthy freshwater ecosystems provide the basis for water supply, flood control, food and numerous other services on which millions depend for their livelihood. However, international development organizations and funding agencies have traditionally treated freshwater ecosystems and watershed management needs as distinct and separate agendas on the ground related directly to access to water and sanitation. The collaborative group recognizes that water, poverty and environment are interconnected and the long-term sustainability of WASH services depends on the conservation and protection of the entire basin. Chris Kosnick, Director of Office of Water, USAID emphasized that the guidelines support the two main strategic objectives, Water for Health and Water for Food, of the Water and Development Strategy and highlighted a specific focus on building partnerships to address the areas of need and leverage resources and technical experiences.

The report aims to provide guidance to health, development, and conservation professionals in sub-Saharan Africa on how to plan, coordinate develop and achieve mutually supported WASH and freshwater conservation projects outcomes. Colleen Sorto, Senior Manager, Peace and Development Partnerships, Conservation International outlined the guidelines structure and highlighted the guidelines are the seed for integrating WASH and conservation. Sarah Davidson encouraged participants to distribute the guidelines with partners and share success stories of pilot projects form the field.

 The guidelines can be accessed here. Please share any lessons learned or questions with Sarah Davidson at sdavdison@tnc.org or Colleen Sorto at csorto@conservation.org.

HIV/AIDS Training Workshop Speaker

ABCG equips conservation organizations to support staff, partners, and local communities affected by HIV and AIDS

Throughout sub-Saharan Africa, millions of adults and children are living with HIV. The disease affects everyone and can have a devastating effect on families, economies, communities, and the environment. Since 2001, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group (ABCG) has been working with partners in Eastern and Southern Africa to learn about the environmental impacts brought on by HIV and AIDS and to identify and catalyze coping strategies for the conservation sector to reduce these impacts.

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is Shared Responsibility: Strengthening Results for an AIDS-Free Generation, which serves as a reminder about the contributions that all sectors can continue to make in overcoming this devastating disease. ABCG’s work on HIV and AIDS aims to raise awareness of the linkages between HIV and AIDS and the environment, and provide guidance to conservation organizations on actions they can take to reduce the impacts on their organizations, their partners and local communities, and the environment. 

HIV/AIDS Training Workshop Speaker

Effects of HIV and AIDS on the Environment and Conservation Institutions

Impacts on the environment are mainly through loss of conservation capacity and changes in use of land and natural resources. All sectors are affected by AIDS, but the conservation sector is particularly vulnerable because conservation staff are often posted to remote areas without their families, where they may be more susceptible to contracting and/or spreading the disease. Certain natural resource extractors are at higher risk due to the nature of their work, for example fishermen and timber loggers, who may rely on transactional sex to secure resources for income generation. In addition, AIDS affects the way that people use land and natural resources, often leading to damaging and unsustainable practices such as the illegal over-hunting of wildlife for the bushmeat trade.

To address these impacts, the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group developed a manual on HIV/AIDS and the Environment: A Manual for Conservation Organizations on Impacts and Responses. The manual provides background information on the origin of HIV, the nature of AIDS and the AIDS epidemic. It outlines the links between the disease and the environment, both on conservation capacity and on use of land and natural resources, showing how gender and poverty have a strong influence through a series of complex linkages. It then describes actions that can be taken to reduce impacts, to help maintain conservation capacity in organizations and local communities; to reduce unsustainable practices as a result of AIDS; and support AIDS-affected communities through alternative livelihoods based on sustainable natural resource use or other low-labor-intensive approaches. Finally, it outlines further needs for learning, collaboration and scaling up. It draws heavily on the work of several conservation organizations and programs working in this field, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, and illustrates a wide variety of experiences. 


In November 2013, ABCG and its member the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) held a training workshop on Equipping Conservation Groups to Mitigate HIV and AIDS in the Workplace in Kigoma, Tanzania. The workshop brought together 34 people from conservation NGOs, local government, national parks, and partner NGOs to review the impacts of HIV and AIDS on the environment, conservation staff, and local communities and to better equip these groups to develop workplace policies and programs to mitigate the impacts of HIV and AIDS. Organization of the workshop was led by Mary Mavanza of JGI-Tanzania and consultant Daulos Mauambeta. Mr. Mauambeta has long been an advocate for empowering conservation organizations to better address these issues; we were very pleased to have him serve as the workshop facilitator and trainer. Mr. Mauambeta shared many examples of how HIV and AIDS had negatively impacted conservation efforts, including a decline of wildlife populations in a Malawian protected area following infection of a large number of protected area staff, who were then unable to perform their duties.

Topics included:

  • Background on HIV/AIDS and global trends
  • Why the conservation community is vulnerable to HIV and AIDS
  • Linkages between conservation and HIV and AIDS
  • Mainstreaming HIV and AIDS in conservation programs
  • Developing an HIV and AIDS workplace policy

 HIV/AIDS Training Workshop Breakout

Pastory Magingi of ABCG member African Wildlife Foundation shared principles from the HIV and AIDS workplace policy that AWF adopted in 2004 to provide staff and families with information and resources on prevention and care. Key components of their policy include assurance of confidentiality, job security and employee benefits, provision of voluntary counseling and testing services, educational programs, treatment services, condom distribution, and medical services. Participants in the workshop were strongly encouraged to work with their organizations to encourage development of workplace policies and programs.

At the close of the workshop, each participant was asked to write their individual commitments to take action for mitigating the impacts of HIV and AIDS in their organizations and in their own lives. These commitments include:

  • Help in the formulation of an HIV/AIDS policy at my work place and supporting staff members to know their HIV status and get help where necessary
  • Request date for meeting with other staff to advice how HIV/AIDS may spread in our workplace and to the nearby villagers
  • By the end of the year, get myself tested for HIV
  • Introduce an HIV/AIDS program in my environmental education program
  • I will not stigmatize people with HIV/AIDS and I will sensitize others to do the same

 Staff from the Jane Goodall Institute continued their work an additional day, during which they drafted an internal workplace policy on HIV and AIDS. This policy is now being refined and will be reviewed by all JGI country offices before it is finalized.

Additional Resources:



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Women stove making training

Clean Energy Technology for Cooking and Lighting Barriers and Breakthroughs: Event Summary

By Kamweti Mutu

Women stove making training

Mary Mavanza, Governance Officer with the Jane Goodall Institute’s Gombe Masito-Ugalla Ecosystem Program, revealed that refugees fleeing violence from DRC Congo to Kigoma, Tanzania, carried their hearth-stones as one of the few household possessions they salvaged.

In Kenya, the Agikuyu in the Central province consider it a bad omen for the hearth fire to go out while the homestead owner is still living. The hearth is the setting for interpersonal bonding, among other social and practical uses, in the Maasai ethnic group. Such is the social significance of the cooking hearth in a traditional community particularly in rural African landscapes to this day. This is but one of the several key points acknowledged as factors in effective cleaner cookstove adoption projects, captured succinctly by Bob Lange’s triple goal of health, conservation, and the welfare of women.

The Clean Cookstoves event highlighted several key considerations in the gradually growing sector of clean energy products for households highly dependent on biomass as feedstock.

Listen to the entire webcast including accompanying slides by clicking here.


Laura Clough

Laura Clough and her study with GVEP International depicted the vast array of improved cookstove types available in local markets, but this correlated with a costly and fragmented distribution system particularly towards the retail end. Moreover consumer awareness on the benefits of efficient cookstoves was wanting, and on the produce end, quality control was a significant factor that undermines any efficiency “improvements” made on a product. Other main challenges include a dearth of capital financing, scant capacity on the products and biomass feedstock supply chain, and cultural resistance including low prioritization of energy efficient appliances.

To address some of these challenges, ABCG supported the development of a toolkit to help practitioners identify the most suitable tools and practices in a given context. Download the “Toolkit for Implementing Household Energy Projects in Conservation Areas here.

Presentation: Energizing Conservation Efforts


Bob Lang Bob Lang of the International Collaborative’s Maasai Stoves & Solar Project stressed the importance of three interdependent and interconnected goals: environmental conservation, health, and women’s welfare. In particular, projects have to incorporate sufficient sensitivity to the personal and cultural values of a community vis-à-vis cookstoves and home heating, in conjunction to seeking market-based solutions to production, supply and uptake. His approach is explicitly participatory with locals from the outset to maximize on local talent, knowledge skills and buy-in. His process features rapid prototyping and continual development adapting to local conditions by way of intimate consultation and partnership with the local community. Thus an important lesson is that solutions have to consider the local context as an inherent criterion in scoping a program or project.

Presentation: It is not just about cooking!


Brandi Suttles The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) is “a public-private initiative to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions”. Brandi Suttles and Stevie Valdez presented the Alliance’s approach to the sector by convening actors including producers, distributors and advocates. GACC aims to structure and promote worldwide standards, partnerships, investments, research and policy change. The Alliance champions a market-based strategy as a response to the supply chain issue, by pursuing a three-pronged strategy of enhancing demand, strengthening supply and fostering an enabling environment.

Stevie Valdez

Presentation: Fostering an Enabling EnvironmentThe Role of Conservation 


Overall, the talk proved an engaging exchange of findings, recommendations and challenges. The event portrayed several major benefits to having efficient cookstoves and clean energy products adopted across communities highly dependent on biomass: Woodlands are not wiped out, leading to a chain reaction of habitat degradation; users spend less effort searching for sources and more being socially/economically productive, and; health benefits are felt from the individual to the community at large.

The conservation community is recognizing the complex dynamic between meeting the needs of both the human and animal populations in areas of ecological importance. Addressing household energy needs can help reduce pressure on natural resources such as firewood and bring positive impacts for local residents. For example, the surveys showed that households could travel up to 50 km to the nearest town to purchase kerosene for lighting and spend over 5 hours looking for firewood for cooking. Encouraging the use of technologies such as solar lanterns and energy efficient stoves can help reduce the time spent on fuel collection as well as reducing household expenditure.

~Laura Clough, Technical Specialist, GVEP International.


Read our recent newsletter on Clean Energy Technologies here

Visit our Clean Energy topic page at ABCG.org here