Envirofit Cookstoves According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “more than three billion people worldwide rely on polluting energy sources such as wood, dung and charcoal for cooking.” These practices are most common in impoverished areas within developing countries and come with severe health consequences. As women are usually tasked with the cooking responsibilities, the indoor air pollution caused by cooking with these traditional fuels disproportionately impacts women as well as children in the household. A social enterprise called Envirofit International aims to make clean cookstoves more accessible and affordable for families living in developing nations.

Polluting Fuels and Gender Inequality

Cooking with polluting energy sources not only leads to serious health repercussions but also contributes to economic gender inequality. Girls and women are the main gatherers of these polluting energy sources, which require more than twice as much time to gather in comparison to clean fuels. Girls from households that use polluting fuels spend roughly 18 hours per week collecting fuel in contrast to five hours a week for those from households that utilize clean energy sources. This time could go toward more productive activities such as learning and paid work. As a result, girls and women fall behind in education and economic advancement.

Health and Economic Repercussions of Indoor Air Pollution

According to the WHO, annually, almost four million people die prematurely as a result of household air pollution caused by “inefficient cooking practices using polluting stoves paired with solid fuels and kerosene.” Indoor air pollution can cause ischaemic heart disease, strokes, lung cancer and pulmonary disease. Indoor pollution increases the risk of pneumonia in children by 50% and “is responsible for 45% of all pneumonia deaths in children” younger than 5. Gathering traditional fuels, a task typically performed by women and children can lead to musculoskeletal damage due to the arduous nature of this task.

Envirofit Cookstoves

Envirofit International works to replace dangerous and harmful traditional cooking methods with clean biomass cookstoves that are efficient, durable and inexpensive. The enterprise is headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado. Since its incorporation in 2003, Envirofit has manufactured and commercialized smart stoves that cook faster, use less fuel and produce less smoke and toxic emissions. Envirofit cookstoves reduce “fuel use, fuel cost and cooking time by up to 60%” and decrease smoke and harmful emissions by up to 80%. These fuel savings alone can increase household income by up to 15% a year.

Using a market-based approach, Envirofit has helped more than five million people in 45 nations around the world save money and time while also reducing their carbon footprint. Envirofits’s clean, pollution-free technology has saved lives by reducing preventable deaths due to pollution. Envirofit cookstoves feature efficient combustion chambers to decrease emissions and utilize biomass fuel, which is accessible for people in rural communities.

With regional headquarters and production sites in East Africa, West Africa, Asia and Latin America, Envirofit can deliver local solutions tailored to each region’s specific needs. Each regional headquarter also contributes to the local economy by providing new employment and business opportunities. Besides creating jobs and making cooking safer, more convenient and affordable, Envirofit promotes sales by conducting local awareness campaigns about the effects of air pollution on health.

Overall, Envirofit cookstoves contribute to the health and well-being of millions of impoverished people across the world, saving lives, time and money.

Carolina Cadena
Photo: Flickr

The Adventure Project's Initiatives in IndiaThe Adventure Project (TAP) is a nonprofit that addresses global issues affecting people living in poverty. With innovative entrepreneurial solutions, the organization improves the lives of millions of people in developing countries by addressing issues relating to health, hunger, clean water and environmental safety. The Adventure Project’s initiatives in India involve clean cookstoves and water handpumps.

Clean Cookstoves in India

A particular area of concern for the organization was open fire cooking in India, Many people in India cook over open fires, which leads to about 4 million people dying each year from breathing in toxic cooking smoke. As toxic as the smoke is to people in India, it is just as detrimental to the environment as the percentage of carbon gases in the environment rises. The Adventure Project’s solution to this is clean cookstoves. These environment-friendly stoves save a family 20% of their daily expenses because of the 50% decrease in charcoal use per day. Furthermore, the use of one stove saves six trees from being cut down and also reduces carbon emissions by 1.5 tons.

Handpumps for Water Access

The Adventure Project wanted to create a solution to help with access to clean water in India. Wells provides a source of water and the people in India use handpumps to collect and carry clean water from the wells. The issue is that handpumps often break, and as long as a handpump is broken, people cannot access water. WaterAid partnered with The Adventure Project to run a handpump mechanic business in northern India. The two-year-old business, which trains both males and females, teaches budding mechanics how to fix well handpumps. When a handpump breaks down, villagers call the mechanic shop and someone bikes over to fix it. This means that people are able to fix their own handpumps and assist other villagers with theirs. The business also provides an income for the locals employed there.

Breaking Gender Barriers

Many women are breaking gender barriers by working alongside men in the handpump mechanic business. As the first female well mechanic in Mahoba, India, Ram Rati is inspiring women to follow their dreams. Rati grew sick of the broken handpumps in the village and decided to become a handpump mechanic herself. In her village, traditionally only men ride bikes. At 40 years old, she broke this gender barrier as well by learning how to ride a bike in order to travel around the village and fix handpumps.

By implementing clean cookstoves and creating a handpump mechanic business, The Adventure Project’s initiatives in India contribute to alleviating global poverty.

– Isha Bedi
Photo: Flickr

The majority of the developing world uses open fires and biomass stoves to cook their food and purify water. These methods are not efficient, requiring constant fuel for the fire to burn. In addition, the emissions are unclean and often cause health hazards for the women and children who breathe them in regularly.

These cooking methods waste valuable time, with the user having to constantly seek out fuel. The cookstoves and open fires further waste time when the user becomes sick more often because of the dirty fumes.

Open fires and burning biomass also release fumes like black carbon and methane into the environment, which speeds up climate change and increases air pollution.

This release of chemicals has taken its toll on its users. About four million premature deaths occur annually from the smoke exposure.

Smoke related illnesses include child pneumonia, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cataracts (which lead to blindness), heart disease and even low birth weight (for the babies of mothers who intake smoke regularly during pregnancy).

Luckily, the world’s change makers are acknowledging the importance of this issue, and organizations are being created to solve it.

Colorado University has teamed up with Baylor University to create a clean burning, fuel efficient cooking stove that is affordable and will last five years. They have financial backing from Shell Foundation, which is willing to grant $25,000,000 to make 10,000,000 of the clean stoves if the project is successful.

Top Third Ventures Ltd. has studied the traditional, developing world stove, and has used this model to create a fuel efficient, clean-burning innovation that maintains cultural similarities. The stove has the same physics as the classic “three stone fire,” but it involves less work to operate and produces less smoke.

While some organizations are focusing on the creation of the stove innovations, others are stressing the implementation of these stoves into poor households.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves has adopted the ambitious goal of ensuring 100 million households are provided with a clean cookstove by the year 2020. They are promoting the use of stoves and fuels that are affordable, sustainable and culturally acceptable among users.

The group has prioritized six countries, Bangladesh, China, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Uganda, to start enabling market growth so households can obtain a stove, and producers in the country can supply them.

With the combined forces of science teams creating cleaner cooking technology and logistic teams focusing on the new stoves’ circulation, the possibility of a cleaner, healthier future is well on its way.

– Courtney Prentice

Sources: Energy for Development, Clean Cookstoves, Baylor, Indie Go Go
Photo: Carbon Finance for Cookstoves

The city of Xi’an is nestled comfortably in mainland China, between the rural West and the modern East. Though the city has a population of approximately nine million, Xi’an is still smaller than Beijing or Shanghai and is decades behind in technology. It is here in the ballroom of the Aurum International Hotel that a representative from the World Wildlife Fund speaks.

She is scheduled to speak about panda conservation, but the conversation drifts towards using clean cookstoves. It’s the same endeavor that Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and many Congressional leaders and celebrities alike have supported. For around $280, the installation of the clean cook stove is a more sustainable alternative to the traditional coal burning cook stoves. Because the price of installation is too high for many of these families, the stoves have been partially subsidized by the Gold Standard.

During Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, the clean cookstove initiative gained domestic and international attention as a hallmark of her Foreign Policy. Traditionally found in rural and underprivileged regions of the world, like those just an hour’s drive out of the Xi’an suburbs, the old cook stoves pose a threat to environmental sustainability as well as public health. The annual death toll as a result of wood-burning and high polluting stoves outnumbers the global mortality rate of malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV combined.

The clean cookstove initiative works twofold. Firstly, the stoves require simple installation which creates jobs of skilled workers to use. Secondly, the efficiency of the clean cookstove helps to expedite the time of household chores. Instead of collecting firewood and attending the old version of the cookstoves, villagers are now allotted more time. This time then can be used to continue to work and garner more income.

In 2013, Hillary Clinton announced the United States would pledge an additional $125 million in addition to the initial $50 million pledge. In conjunction with the efforts of the World Wildlife Fund China, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves has become a presence in Western China. By 2020, the goal is to have at least 100 million clean cookstoves worldwide.

Because of the multitude of the clean cookstove initiative have garnered support among ecologists, doctors, and politicians alike. The unified front of non-governmental organizations as well as efforts by the United States government has made the clean cook stove project one of the most successful poverty-reducing and life-preserving measures taken in the past decade.

-Kristin Ronzi

Sources: Carbon Finance for Cookstoves, Reuters
Photo: MyClimate

Half of the world’s population relies on wood stoves to cook their food. These stoves are cheap, provide warm meals and heat homes throughout the world. However, wood stoves come with a number of negative consequences that affect global health and the global environment. Each year, four million people are killed from the household air pollution that results from cooking with wood stoves. Additionally, roughly 800,000 metric tons of soot is generated from these stoves each year, releasing 18% of the world’s greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

Because of the negative medical and ecological effects of the use of wood stoves, researchers at the University of Nottingham in England have created a greener and healthier stove. The SCORE stove is a new device that still uses wood as its fuel, but is nearly twice as efficient as traditional wood stoves. The new stove uses roughly four and a half pounds of wood a day, about half the amount needed in a conventional stove. The developers of the SCORE stove point out that less time spent on collecting wood can translate into “extra time for other income-generating activities.”

Advanced features in the design of the SCORE stove allow it to act as more than just a stove. Developers of the device have utilized the heat generated from cooking to use the stove as a source of power. The high-tech stove “takes excess heat produced during cooking and converts it into sound waves, which then generate electricity.” Currently, the stove produces up to 36 watts of power, enough to charge efficient LED lights or to power a mobile phone. In the future, developers of the SCORE stove hope that their invention will generate enough power to fully charge a laptop.

The most direct benefit of the SCORE stove could be its ability to eliminate dangerous smoke fumes from burning wood. In many cold areas of the world, wood stoves are used indoors to cook food and warm homes. With poor ventilation, the stove’s off-gasses become a health problem. Inhalation of smoke can lead to conditions such as “pneumonia and lunch cancer, which disproportionately affect women and children.” The SCORE stove helps mitigate this problem by helping to eliminate the dangerous smoke fumes that are produced by traditional stoves, making cooking safer in developing areas.

Developers of the new device recognize that although the SCORE stove is more expensive than a traditional wood stove, it is more durable and provides many more benefits. The SCORE stove’s ecological, medical, and economic advantages could result in a cleaner environment, improved global health, and increased economic production.

– Jordan Kline 

Sources: Trust, Score
Photo: Food Tank

Clean Cookstoves CampaignHunger is not the only food-related problem faced by people in the poorest parts of the world. Even if people have access to nourishing foods, the methods they use to prepare meals can pose significant health risks in the form of in-home pollution.

According to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, nearly 3 billion people globally cook food and heat their homes using open fires or traditional cookstoves. Smoke exposure from these methods poses a significant global health threat that is responsible for 4 million premature deaths every year, according to Radha Muthiah, executive director of the Alliance. Those figures, Muthiah noted, make “the simple act of cooking a meal the fourth greatest health risk in the world.” Women and children are particularly vulnerable.

The Alliance is a large partnership-based organization that was launched by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative. It started with just 19 founding partners. Three years later the organization is significantly larger; currently, it is working with 700 partners around the world.

The success of the Alliance lies in an early effort to outline clear goals and methods of achieving those goals. The ultimate vision is to achieve universal clean cookstove adoption by 2030, but the organization is taking a step-by-step approach. First, the organization is working to get 100 million households globally to adopt clean cookstoves and fuel by 2020. To reach that goal, the organization will work with its partners on six continents.

According to the Alliance’s website, the organization uses a three-pronged strategy: enhance demand, foster an enabling environment and strengthen supply. Enhancing demand involves everything from raising consumer awareness to providing access to financing and developing better technologies. Strengthening supply means making sure there are enough cookstoves available for consumers at prices they can afford. Fostering an enabling environment involves promoting international standards and documenting new research about the benefits of clean cookstoves.

The Alliance has had a number of famous champions in addition to Clinton. They include actor Julia Roberts, Chef Jose Andres, and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

There have been some questions about the long-term health effects of the clean cookstove movement since it started gathering steam. In 2012, a study by a group of Harvard University and MIT professors looked at one specific city, Orissa, India, where the alliance had worked. The study found that there was a meaningful reduction in smoke inhalation during the first year a household used a clean cookstove, but the benefits diminished as time went on because the stoves were often abandoned if they were damaged. The results provided a note on how the movement could be improved.

– Liza Casabona

Sources: Devex, Clean Cookstoves, Bloomberg
Photo: US Embassy