in our projects...brickstar

Globally as well as in Southern Africa the level of domestic wood use has become unsustainable. It is estimated that three billion people around the world still make use of traditional cooking methods that require biomass for fuel.


In response to this, the Brickstar stove was designed over a couple of years by about 20 residents of Molati,  together with Nova. Molati is a rural village in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The stove is built by residents to suit their needs and requirements, using material that is readily available in the area, incorporating the skills that the community members already have and at a cost that they can afford. It is also maintained by them. It is effective: it reduces wood use with 40%, and harmful smoke - which children were exposed to in the closed area of the kitchen - is almost completely eliminated.


The Brickstar Programme is aligned with Nova’s mission to research, develop and implement ways of improving quality of life with households in their environment. The programme aims to reduce poverty and achieve greater access to sustainable energy through the installation of Brickstar stoves in rural households in this part of Limpopo.


The ability to accurately measure results is an important aspect of the programme. Since the households cannot pay for the service of installing the stoves, we plan on taking it to scale with  programmes such as GS 3.0, where social and climate benefits are considered and validated. Such programmes make reliable measurements important. The project contributes to job creation and other social benefits in the local community because the stoves are locally produced; it also contributes to the reduction of energy poverty, women empowerment and rural development. Not only does it save 40% wood, it also has a huge positive impact on the health of households and families, and specifically children. Further research opportunities include topics such as resilience, climate change, sustainable wood use, and biodiversity.


For more information, read one resident’s story or consult our fact sheet.



It is very important for us to measure our results in order to ensure that the outcomes that are planned are also achieved. Monitoring and evaluation activities include a baseline assessment, quality control when the stove is built and annual monitoring of fuel use. Nova trains local residents to conduct surveys with smart mobile devices.


To date the Brickstar team has installed approximately 4500 stoves in rural households situated in the Limpopo province of South Africa. The fact that households do not have to pay money for these stoves makes the project feasible as most of these households are rural low-income households. However, they participate by making their own 25 bricks, and help to build the stoves, and thus aren’t passive receivers of the stoves. Through the use of the stove a household can save two tonnes CO2e per year if they make use of it instead of the traditional open fire method.


The project included a fire wood measurement campaign during which it was determined that households using the stove can save 2.6 kg of wood per day.



Gold Standard 3.0 is a new standard that sets the foundation for results-based finance for climate and development outcomes, that track to the United nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. There is a tremendous gap between the average historical prices for carbon credits compared to the economic value of impacts they deliver. Gold Standard 3.0 aims to address this discrepancy by more rigorously quantifying the beyond-carbon benefits and allowing for these to be either sold on top of the carbon emission reduction or at least more accurately accounted for within the price of a Gold Standard carbon credit. Gold Standard 3.0 is intended to serve as one, comprehensive and integrated standard that will enable various outcomes — from reduced greenhouse gas emissions to water benefits to improved health — to be certified through a unique standard and a single certification process. The intention is to evaluate both the positive and sometimes negative impacts of a project, painting a full picture across the activity’s total landscape to maximise net positive impacts.



The Brickstar project is unique in comparison with other cook stove projects in the sense that it is not a product that is manufactured somewhere and then distributed to the end-users. The stoves are locally produced within the project area by the end-users themselves, making use of freely available materials. The making of clay bricks is a traditional custom within the project area, and not some alien practice introduced by the Brickstar team.


Over a period of four years the project has temporarily employed more than 50 members from the project area communities. These part-time employees went through a rigorous training process during which they were equipped with the necessary skills to implement the project. These skills included technical training on stove building, data logging on smart mobile devices, and appropriate household engagement.



The use of the Brickstar stove in daily household cooking carries benefits to the end-user on various levels. The most immediate benefit that the households experience is an improvement in indoor air quality. The households traditionally cook their meals on an open fire in a small, separately built outside kitchen. Most of these outside kitchens have little or no ventilation, which means that the person cooking inhales the smoke that is produced by the fire. This situation is detrimental to any person going into the outside kitchen while cooking is in process, more so in the case of children. The Brickstar stove enables more efficient firewood combustion, which has the effect of significantly reducing the amount of smoke released.


The more efficient combustion of firewood and the improved insulation that the stove provides have the effect that much less firewood is needed to prepare the meals previously cooked on open fires. The Brickstar stove allows households to save 40% firewood when compared to open fire cooking.


The Brickstar stove functions on the premise of insulation and airflow. The insulation factor gives the stove a closed-off design, which means that the fire is completely covered from the outside. This creates a safer cooking environment, especially with regards to children that might be playing around the cooking place.


Traditional cooking methods require biomass for fuel. In this context the responsibility is placed on women to collect the biomass fuel or firewood, as they are also largely responsible for preparing their households' meals. The fact that the stove allows households to save up to 40% of their firewood further results in the person responsible for collecting firewood spending much less of their time performing this task.



Lisbeth Mashele (below) was one of the first women to have a stove installed in her house during our first implementation phase. She took the opportunity to explain to the rest of her community members who attended the village demonstration how she has benefited from the stove since taking it in use. Lisbeth emphasised two points which particularly stood out for her. Firstly, she explained that preparing her meals on the Brickstar stove caused the whole cooking process to go much faster than what she was used to when cooking on an open-fire. Secondly, Lisbeth told her listeners that she was amazed by the fact that she could leave her left-over food and bathing water on the stove overnight, to find it still at a perfectly heated temperature the next morning.



• Number of households with installed stoves: 4500

• Amount of local residents temporarily employed through project: 55

• Total project size: 23 Villages in the Limpopo province

• Estimated amount of bio-fuel saved by project annually: 3150 t

• Average monetary value saved by household on fuel per month: R 50 (about $4)


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