Safer cooking across the world

Amanda Ross

December 20th, 2016

Cooking is a daily necessity – for some a chore, for others a pleasure.  I’m happy to count myself in the latter category. Luckily for me, cooking is made easier by the availability of clean, reliable energy.  But this sadly is not the case for a third of the world population. Pashupati Kumal

In many developing countries, and especially in rural areas, the only cooking fuels available and affordable are wood, crop waste or dung. And the most common cooking appliance is a three stone fire.  Not only is this energy inefficient, it’s also dangerous. Diseases caused by smoke from cooking fires kill 4 million people each year. That’s more than malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/Aids combined.

Sadly, there’s no single silver bullet to solve this problem. All cultures have their own cooking practices, so local choice has to play a big role in any technology designed to reduce smoke in the kitchen.  Here are some stories of Practical Action’s locally designed solutions that have succeeded in cutting deadly household air pollution.

As you cook your Christmas dinner this year, spare a thought for the three billion people worldwide who don’t have clean energy.

You can help by donating to our appeal to stop the killer in the kitchen.

LPG stoves in North Darfur, Sudan

In North Darfur, 90% of households depend on firewood and charcoal for cooking. In this region LPG fuel is available and offers a clean, efficient substitute for wood or charcoal in household cooking.

This innovative project is financed with carbon credits, through Carbon Clear. And a community managed revolving microfinance scheme enables poor families to obtain both the stove and the fuel. No only does the reduction in household air pollution improve the health of women and children but it also reduces the pressure on dwindling forest resources in the region

Asha LPG stovesAsha Mohamed Abdelkareem Sabeel, a mother of six, now has an LPG stove. She used to spend 20 SDG ($2) a day to buy wood for cooking. But with the new fuel she has put away her daily savings of 10 SDG per day ($1) in a box and has saved an unbelievable 2,800 SDG ($280).  The family have used this to build a new building and kitchen for their house.

Asha used to have to visit the doctor every other month but this has stopped completely. She is now saving to support her daughter at university. In addition there is a huge time saving. Instead of spending four hours a day cooking, it can all be done in an hour.

Just imagine what you could achieve with an extra three hours a day!

ACCESS stoves in Odisha, India

ACCESS OdishaThis Johnson Matthey funded project in Odisha has trained local women entrepreneurs to produce and market a locally designed low smoke stove.

It is providing employment and stimulating the local economy as well as improving health by reducing harmful smoke.

26 year old K Madhabi led a women’s group and is now a successful entrepreneur.  The energy efficient cook stove they produce reduced smoke to almost zero and cooking time up to 50%.  It also consumes less firewood than traditional stoves. She is delighted with their success.

“Life is not the same as before. We have been treated with much respect in our community,” says Madhabi.

The group has been getting regular orders and are working hard to meet the demand.

Smoke hoods in Nepal

In rural areas across Nepal, traditional stoves are common. But smoke from these fires fill the lungs of the whole family, causing them to cough and their eyes to stream.

Saraswoti MoktanHere the winter cold means that stoves are needed for heating as well as cooking. Practical Action has worked with local families to develop a smoke hood design that can be manufactured locally and installed along with an improved stove. The project is enabling 36,000 households in the Gorkha, Dhading, Makwanpur, Rasuwa and Nuwakot districts of Nepal to install this technology.

Saraswoti explains how this has changed her life.

“Before, we had a traditional stove. And the stove was really smoky; my eyes were watery and I couldn’t see properly. It used to hurt a lot. When the children were small, they suffered from pneumonia.”

Their new stove and smoke hood not only protect Saraswoti’s family from deadly smoke but also uses less wood, saving time and effort, and the house is no longer black with soot.

Stoves for coffee growers in Peru

Working in partnership with coffee co-operative CENFROCAFE, we’ve developed an improved stove for 700 coffee and rice farmers in the provinces of Jaen and San Ignacio in Peru.

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