Raghuram lives with his wife on a tea estate in Assam, north India; he is a temporary worker and she is permanent. Raghuram’s family use to have a traditional cooking stove in their home, which “had turned black and I used to have a coughing problem from the smoke it produced…” He heard about our Clean Cookstoves project in partnership with Mercy Corps and soon bought one – he hasn’t looked back!
Introducing Clean Cookstoves in Assam, India
In tea communities in Assam, India, many people like Raghuram, use traditional cookstoves, but these produce a lot of indoor smoke which causes eye and respiratory problems. The traditional stoves also require a lot of firewood, which is either a financial burden for families, or it requires them to spend time each day collecting firewood. This task is mainly carried out by women and girls, which reduces their time for schooling or income-generating activities.
Our pilot project with Mercy Corps in 2015 promoted the adoption of clean cookstoves through a simple model. Local people were trained in how to make, maintain and repair fuel-efficient cook stoves, as well as basic business skills. There was an awareness campaign to demonstrate the advantages of the new stoves and they were then sold at an affordable price to families on the estates. This pilot project has delivered an alternative stove that has been embraced by the communities because they are low cost, require less firewood, reduce cooking time and produce less smoke. So far, 807 households have adopted clean cookstoves and 4,800 people are less exposed to health risks from smoke inhalation. There is an added benefit of reduced deforestation and carbon emissions as well.
Raghuram says, “my family is so far happy with it; it needs less firewood and therefore costs less. It is also repaired for free by the potters who made it, which is a reassurance”.
In November 2016 we organised a workshop to disseminate the learnings of this project with producers and interested parties in Assam. This will hopefully enable the approach to be scaled up and have even greater impact on air quality in home across the region. So far five estates have already shown interest.
Raghuram is one of many who feel these new clean stoves have improved their standard of living; that is why we are promoting the approach across the region.