Smoke hoods save lives
In communities where people lack any access to grid electricity, wood and dung (biomass) is the main source of energy. ‘Clean’ fuel to cook food, light for study and power to run tools for earning a living is almost non-existent – and burning wood creates toxic smoke, which kills.
More than 3 million people worldwide depend on fuel such as wood and coal for cooking and heating. Burning these fuels creates a dangerous cocktail of pollutants. It is the poor who rely on the lowest grades of fuel, and each year nearly 2 million people die from in haling lethal smoke from kitchen stoves and fires.
But solutions are available. By working with women battling the extreme problem of indoor air pollution in their homes, Practical Action has developed a simple smoke hood, which reduces indoor smoke levels by up to 80%.
Working with communities in the developing world, Practical Action created a special smoke hood which is simple, cost effective and efficient, and is already helping to save lives. The sheet metal smoke hood sits over the fire, drawing smoke straight out through the roof.
A simple technology makes a difference
In the Rasuwa district of Nepal, Practical Action has been helping families eradicate indoor smoke.
Life is hard for Sonam and Nima. Sonam works in his 16 ropani (about 2 acres) of land all day and Nima works round the clock cooking and taking care of their children and cattle. Their kitchen is also their bedroom – a refuge for indoor smoke.
Nima’s kitchen is poorly ventilated and the indoor smoke caused Nima’s health to ail. Due to improper combustion, she tired easily and complained of chest pains, headaches and eye irritation.
Sonam on the other hand could not understand his wife's complaints and had not paid much attention to his wife’s deteriorating health. “I talked to my friend, Bhume Lama, about my problems who happened to be a smoke hood manufacturer promoted by Practical Action. After listening to my problems and considering the fact that our kitchen is also our bedroom he advised me to install a smoke hood,” he says.
He talked to his wife about the benefits of smoke hood and agreed to install it but the cost of installation would amount to NRs. 5,000. “I had to install it for the benefit of my family,” he says. “I paid NRs. 1,000 as a down payment and obtained NRs. 4,000 as a loan from the village revolving fund." He pays NRs. 150 per month to the revolving fund to repay his loan.
After installation of the smoke hood Nima already feels the difference. Her eyes no longer waters and she no longer has headaches or chest pains. She spends more time outdoors as the cooking time has decreased significantly due to stove improvement leading to efficiency.
Sonam recently formed a group of 20 households to share his knowledge and experiences. Practical Action provided seed money to start a village revolving fund for the sole purpose of smoke hood installation. All the members from Sonam’s group have installed smoke hoods in their homes. “People now come to me seeking information on IAP and smoke hood, I am happy to share my knowledge and experience with them,” he says.
In Nepal, indoor air pollution results causes the premature death of 8,700 people annually. In this video, see the effects of smoke in the home - and the impact of some practical solutions.Read more
Practical Action's technical information service, Practical Answers, provides free information on many aspects of household energy, improved stoves and ways to reduce indoor air pollution while cooking. Below are a few documents from our extensive free online library on stoves, ovens and reducing indoor air pollution.
Nearly half the world cooks on three-stone fires or basic stoves causing indoor air pollution. This brief looks at ways to reduce pollution.
Smoke from cooking with wood, dung and crop residues is the fourth greatest risk for death and disease in the world's poorest countries.
Inventory of innovative indoor air pollution alleviating technologies in Nepal
This report can be used by the readers to facilitate their decision making on appropriate choice of technology suitable for their own use of for further dissemination.
In addition, Practical Action have produced an online tool that will produce a downloadable technical brief for any individual or organization intending to implement projects to alleviate indoor air pollution.
More about reducing indoor air pollution
An archive of our webinar in partnership with Engineering for Change. This webinar looks at some lessons from the Nepal pilot project, and the nature of the private/ public/ non-profit relationship that has helped it to come about.Find out more