Work pioneered by a former Sheffield schoolteacher in a remote southern African community has won official recognition from the United Nations.
Ken Dunn gave up his job as assistant head of City School two years ago to devote his time to establishing links between communities in the UK and in the developing world.
Part of his work included helping to design a fuel-efficient stove that would transform the lives of people in impoverished southern Africa.
Now that work has been officially endorsed by the United Nations.
“We’ve got this recognition for the power of the environmental work we’re doing out in Lesotho,” says Ken, who developed the stove in partnership with universities in Sheffield and the US.
“We approached the UN in 2010, they visited to assess the impact and now, finally, we have official recognition that what we’re doing is really powerful.
“It’s certainly very exciting. I’ve given a lot to bring this to fruition and we hope it will encourage other people to get involved. This is not just schools, it’s about corporate social responsibility too. The beauty of what we do is very much about mutual benefit.”
The stove – which has already won an international award and personal thanks from King Letsie III of Lesotho – has helped to cut mortality caused by breathing in wood smoke from open fires.
It is being supported by tree planting, education and sustainable harvesting schemes that should have a long-term effect on areas where loss of vegetation is almost absolute.
The UN has now offered match-funding to support a pilot extension of the work.
“This is a real chance – it could be rolled out nationwide and possibly across the entire south of Africa,” says Ken.
He is appealing to corporate bodies, as well as schools and community groups, to get involved and help raise funds for the work.
A donation of £40 will provide a stove, but as little as £2 could plant a tree. For details contact Ken on 07528 529 766 or www.trees4africa.org.uk