Exploring Ethiopia: Students and faculty encounter the consequences of energy poverty

“When I studied and interned abroad during college,” said Hilary Landfried ’13, “I cooked with my host families—often over wood fires and dirty stoves. It was through these experiences that I first became acquainted with the fact that cooking can be deadly.”

Landfried now works at Project Gaia Inc. (PGI), a nonprofit that promotes sustainable, alcohol fuels for clean cooking in an effort to improve global health, reduce harmful emissions, and alleviate energy poverty. With its headquarters in Gettysburg, PGI is working to prevent illnesses resulting from wood and charcoal smoke inhalation—which cause 4 million deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization—through projects in Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. The nonprofit also boasts a strong partnership with the College. Since 2008, 16 Gettysburg students and alumni have interned, worked, or conducted research with PGI.

This spring, PGI embarked upon a new College partnership—this time with Gettysburg’s Office of Experiential Education—to help students and faculty learn more about the health and environmental impacts of cooking with biomass fuels as they trekked the Ethiopian highlands. The trip was the brainchild of Landfried and Tucker Little ’13, assistant director of experiential education.

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