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Award-Winning Researcher Leads Search for Clean Energy Sources

Having grown up in a rural Kiambu village, Mary Njenga knows only too well the effect of wood fuel on communities, especially women and girls who are often charged with the responsibility of collecting firewood in Kenya. “I remember how it felt to walk for long distances in search of wood, and later carry the heavy load on my back. I would arrive home at dusk very tired and with no energy to do anything else,” says Dr. Njenga. “Back in the kitchen, I and my sisters would sit around the fire as we helped mum prepare meals. All this time, we would inhale smoke emanating from wood fuel not knowing that it was dangerous for our health.” These painful experiences coupled with her love for the environment drove Dr. Njenga to search for an alternative cooking fuel that would benefit women and save them from the ordeal she had endured while young.