Prakti, an Indian company, is using innovating design solutions to battle rising death tolls that come from cookstove usage throughout India. Nearly 3 billion homes in the country use inefficient cookstoves that lead to high levels of toxic indoor pollution, as the fuel used ranges from animal feces to coal. It is estimated that nearly 4 million people worldwide have died due to indoor air pollution – more than have died from tuberculosis and malaria.
Prakti has been dedicated to finding creative designs to combat this problem, although founder Serrar acknowledges that finding the perfect combination of design and affordability is not always simple. Since cookstoves are used not only in India, but throughout other developing nations in Southeast Asia, the cookstoves must be designed for use in different cultures and environments. For this reason, Prakti is not able to standardize and produce cookstoves in bulk.
Prakti sends a representative to a community in need of efficient cookstoves, along with a few prototypes, to discuss with the people their needs and the viability of each design for that select environment. Although Prakti has only sold around 8,000 cookstoves thus far, the market remains largely untapped, with innovative cookstoves only having reached nearly 1% of the total market.
Although Prakti’s stoves are a bit more expensive than traditional stoves, at 1,000 rupees each, Serrar asserts that the money a family saves in healthcare costs and future illnesses more than makes up for the extra cost paid up front. A traditional wood-burning stove in India costs around only 100 rupees. Prakti is still working on reducing costs of their cookstoves, and is looking into microfinance options and corporate sponsors, along with the option of creating local jobs and having the new cookstoves built onsite or nearby to reduce costs.
– Christina Kindlon