Cooking with LPG vastly improves indoor air quality, freeing families from the threat of indoor air pollution. What’s more, a canister of LPG lasts up to a month, saving both money and time in gathering fuel. The reduced reliance on wood also means the LPG stoves relieve the pressure on local forests. As LPG has lower greenhouse emissions than any other fossil fuel, the positive change wrought by the stoves on the environment is significant. Each stove installed saves 4.51tCO2e, which is equivalent to a passenger flying three times between London and New York. The project was therefore a prime candidate for funding through carbon credit – an innovation which attaches a market value to the reduction of carbon dioxide.
Africa had initially missed out on carbon financing, as the continent was thought to be lacking in the necessary infrastructure to support projects, and was considered a risky option by investors. However, its success will hopefully inspire investors to fund more projects in the region. As well as gaining carbon financing, the project was awarded Lighthouse Status by the UNFCCC’s 2013 Momentum for Change initiative, in recognition of its environmental and social benefits. The UN identified reducing energy poverty as one of its Millennium Development Goals, and the Low Smoke Stoves Project’s introduction of LPG to Darfur represents an exciting and efficient way to do this. The benefits of the project are felt by all in the local communities, but it is in the lives of women that they can most clearly be seen. In Darfur, women are responsible for most of the cooking, meaning they are most at risk of illness caused by indoor smoke. The Low Smoke Stoves Project inverts this disadvantage by placing women at the forefront of its development, creating an opportunity for entrepreneurship.
The project is now run by a local woman’s group, which manufactures and sells the stoves as well as offering training in their use. This creates income and independence for the women, as well as ensuring the long term sustainability of the project. To date over 6,300 stoves have already been distributed, and the project aims to double or triple this number in the next five years.
The impact the project has had on the lives of local women reaches further still. 93% of women say that the efficiency of the clean cook stoves means they have more time for work, allowing them to generate additional income to support their families, while more than half of women said the project meant they had more time to spend with their children. Perhaps the greatest change was the significant number of women reporting that the stoves meant their husbands were taking more of an interest in cooking. A more equal domestic dynamic coupled with a cleaner, safer cooking method paves the way to a brighter future for the women of Darfur.