Indoor Air Quality Updates
Contacts/ Websites of Clean Cookstove Community members – March 7, 2014
Below is a listing of organizations and individuals that have joined the Clean Cookstove Community as of March 7, 2014. We hope the Clean Cookstove Community on Linkedin will become a crowdsourcing resource for sharing information on solutions to cookstove and household air pollution issues.
Please contact WASHplus to make any additions or corrections to this list.
Berkeley Air Monitoring Group – Berkeley Air is a social venture based in California, USA dedicated to protecting global health and climate. We are a leading monitoring and evaluation partner for energy, health, and development organizations working in developing countries.
- Website – http://www.berkeleyair.com/
- Twitter – @BerkeleyAir
- Contact – Michael Johnson
BURN Manufacturing – In July 2013, BURN installed its first stove assembly line in Nairobi, Kenya. In July 2014 BURN will open a production facility that will allow us to manufacture 99% of our components in Kenya.
- Website – http://www.burnmanufacturing.com/
- Contact: Chris Agava, Head of Sales & marketing
Carnegie Mellon University
- Melissa D., Graduate student
Cookstove at Catalyzing Clean Energy in Bangladesh
- Contact: Anowar Mollah, Deputy Task Lead
Cookswell Jikos – At Cookswell Jikos, we provide our customers with original designs of professional charcoal and wood fueled stoves, convection ovens, improved space heaters, charcoal making kilns and tree seeds. All our products are made by professionally trained artisans in Kenya.
- Website – http://www.cookswell.co.ke/
- Contact – Teddy Kinyanjui, Owner
Engineers Without Borders
- Rahul Mitra, International Development Engineer
Environmental Protection Agency – The EPA develops and enforces regulations for human health and environment protection, as well as voluntary and technical assistance programs, and international coordination on environmental issues.
- Website – http://www.epa.gov
- Contact – Jacob Moss
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) – IIASA is an international scientific institute that conducts policy‑oriented research into problems that are too large or too complex to be solved by a single country.
- Website – http://www.iiasa.ac.at/
- Shonali Pachauri, Senior Research Scholar, Energy Program
George Washington University, School of Public Health
- Contact: Jay Graham, Assistant Professor
Natural Resources Defense Council – NRDC is an environmental action group, with 1.4 million members and expertise of more than 350 lawyers, scientists and other professionals.
- Website – http://www.nrdc.org/
- Contact: Nikita Naik
Project Gaia – Project Gaia, Inc. is part of a global initiative for the development of clean-cooking fuels. It seeks to establish and promote the use of alcohol fuels for household energy for all who have limited access to clean energy
- Website – http://www.projectgaia.com
- Contact: Harry Stokes, Executive Director
PROLENHA – Our mission is to promote development projects that make use of biomass energy efficiently and cleaner. These projects should aim at social and/or economical development of the communities involved.
- Website – http://www.prolenha.org.br/
- Rogerio Miranda, President of PROLENHA
RTI International - Growing from a handful of scientists in central North Carolina in 1959 to a staff of more than 3,700 in more than 75 countries today, RTI is now one of the world’s leading independent, nonprofit research and development organizations.
- Website – http://www.rti.org/
- Myles Elledge, Senior Director, International Development Group
Solar Cookers International – Solar Cookers International works to improve human health, quality of life, and environments for nearly 3 billion people who cook over open fires by promoting solar thermal cooking technology.
- Website – https://www.solarcookers.org/
- Contact: Patricia McArdle, Editor, The Solar Cooker Review
Stockholm Environment Institute - SEI is an independent international research institute. We have been engaged in environment and development issues at local, national, regional and global policy levels for more than 20 years.
- Website – http://www.sei-international.org/
- Fiona Lambe, Research Fellow
- Sanya Detweiler, Field Service Associate
University of California, Berkeley
- Nicholas Lam, Doctoral Candidate
University of Mongolia
- Contact – L. Delgerzul , PhD Candidate at Health Sciences
University of Southampton
- Contact – Heather P., Research Fellow in Geography and Environment
Urban Emissions Info – UrbanEmissions.info was founded by Dr. Sarath Guttikunda in 2007 with the vision to be a repository of information, research, and analysis related to air pollution.
- Website – http://www.urbanemissions.info/
- Contact – Sarath Guttikunda, Co-Director
- Contact: Amy Cory, Associate Professor of Nursing
WASHplus – The WASHplus project creates supportive environments for healthy households and communities by delivering high-impact interventions in water supply, sanitation, and hygiene and indoor air pollution. WASHplus is funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Bureau for Global Health.
- http://www.washplus.org – Project website
- http://blogs.washplus.org/iaqupdates – Indoor Air Pollution Updates
- @washplus_stoves – Twitter
- Contact: Dan Campbell, Taj Sheriff, Patricia Mantey
World Health Organization – WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system.
- Website – http://www.who.int
- Contact – Heather Adair-Rohani, Technical Officer
Millions Dead: How Do We Know and What Does It Mean? Methods Used in the Comparative Risk Assessment of Household Air Pollution. Annual Review of Public Health, Vol. 35 (Volume publication date April 2014).
- Abstract/order info - Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Public Health Volume 35 is March 18, 2014.
Authors: Kirk R. Smith, Nigel Bruce, Kalpana Balakrishnan, Heather Adair-Rohani, John Balmes, Zoë A. Chafe, Mukesh Dherani, H. Dean Hosgood, Sumi Mehta, Daniel Pope, Eva Rehfuess.
In the Comparative Risk Assessment (CRA) done as part of the Global Burden of Disease project (GBD-2010), the global and regional burdens of household air pollution (HAP) from use of solid cookfuels were estimated along with 60+ other risk factors. This article first describes how HAP CRA was framed; global HAP exposures were modelled; diseases were judged to have sufficient evidence for inclusion; and meta-analyses and exposure-response modelling were done to estimate relative risks. We explore relationships with the other air pollution risk factors: ambient air pollution, smoking, and secondhand smoke. We conclude with sensitivity analyses to illustrate some of the major uncertainties and recommendations for future work. We estimate that in 2010 HAP was responsible for 3.7 million premature deaths and about 4.6% of lost healthy life years (DALYs) ranking it highest among environmental risk factors examined and one of the major risk factors of any type globally.
Revealing Demand for Pro-Poor Innovations, n.d.
Social scientists and engineers have begun using new techniques to capture user preferences and market information from underserved communities. These include behavioral experiments, sensing devices, big data analytics, participatory data collection methods, and qualitative approaches. This white paper seeks to provide an overview of the many different tools used for unveiling the demand for new products and services in developing countries.
Section 1 focuses on advances in the field of empirical economics, including techniques for estimating people’s willingness to pay for new products and services. Sensors and meters are the topic of Section 2, which examines how electronic devices are being applied to monitor the use of new technologies, measure the impacts of interventions, and improve product design. Section 3 lays out pioneering initiatives in the field of Big Data, leveraging the fast expansion of high-frequency data streams to identify areas of unmet demand for innovation. Finally, Sections 4 and 5 review more traditional methods used for revealing demand, and highlight how recent advances—like participatory assessments and textual analysis—have been used to overcome limitations.
Indoor air pollution in slum neighbourhoods of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Atmospheric Environment, June 2014.
Authors: Habtamu Sanbataa, et al.
• Average PM2.5 concentration measured in homes using fuels exceed WHO guidelines.
• We examine differences in the PM2.5 concentration from fuel types in urban homes.
• We compare the emission concentration between different stove types.
• The efficiency of traditional stoves is only about 15%.
• The use of clean fuels and efficient cooking stoves will improve indoor air quality.
An estimated 95% of the population of Ethiopia uses traditional biomass fuels, such as wood, dung, charcoal, or crop residues, to meet household energy needs. As a result of the harmful smoke emitted from the combustion of biomass fuels, indoor air pollution is responsible for more than 50,000 deaths annually and causes nearly 5% of the burden of disease in Ethiopia. Very limited research on indoor air pollution and its health impacts exists in Ethiopia. This study was, therefore, undertaken to assess the magnitude of indoor air pollution from household fuel use in Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. During January and February, 2012, the concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in 59 households was measured using the University of California at Berkeley Particle Monitor (UCB PM). The raw data was analysed using Statistical Package of Social Science (SPSS version 20.0) software to determine variance between groups and descriptive statistics.
The geometric mean of 24-h indoor PM2.5 concentration is approximately 818 μg m−3 (Standard deviation (SD = 3.61)). The highest 24-h geometric mean of PM2.5 concentration observed were 1134 μg m−3 (SD = 3.36), 637 μg m−3 (SD = 4.44), and 335 μg m−3 (SD = 2.51), respectively, in households using predominantly solid fuel, kerosene, and clean fuel. Although 24-h mean PM2.5 concentration between fuel types differed statistically (P < 0.05), post hoc pairwise comparison indicated no significant difference in mean concentration of PM2.5 between improved biomass stoves and traditional stoves (P > 0.05). The study revealed indoor air pollution is a major environmental and health hazard from home using biomass fuel in Addis Ababa. The use of clean fuels and efficient cooking stoves is recommended.
The effect of biomass fuel exposure on the prevalence of asthma in adults in India – review of current evidence. Journal of Asthma, March 2014.
Authors: Jennifer Trevor, et al.
Introduction: The combustion of biomass fuels is a major source of respiratory disease among individuals in the developing world. Over two million people world-wide rely on biomass fuels to supply their household energy needs with an estimated 1.6 million deaths annually being attributable to biomass smoke exposure. As a developing country, India relies heavily on the use of solid fuels as a source of energy. These materials supply 75% of the country’s domestic energy need and are attributed as the cause of over 600 000 deaths annually. Diseases such as chronic bronchitis and acute lower respiratory tract infections are strongly correlated to biomass smoke exposure. While not as strongly correlated, accumulating evidence suggests that asthma prevalence may be related to solid fuel smoke.
Methods: This review examines the current literature linking biomass smoke exposure to the reporting of asthma symptoms. A PubMed search was performed using key terms biomass, asthma, India and respiratory disease. Preference was given to recent articles that surveyed the adult population within India.
Results: The reviewed articles showed an increased odds ratio for reporting a diagnosis of asthma or symptoms consistent with asthma following biomass smoke exposure. While the literature supports a strong association between household air pollution and the development of chronic bronchitis and acute lower respiratory tract infections in India, this review establishes a more firm relationship between reported asthma symptoms and biomass smoke exposure.
Conclusion: The exposure to biomass fuel smoke results in respiratory diseases in developing countries. Among these diseases, asthma appears to be a preventable pulmonary pathology that is associated with household air pollution. Measures to reduce exposure may decrease the burden of disease which could help advance social and economic progress in these nations. Further research and out-reach efforts are needed to reduce the total burden of lung diseases, including asthma, across the developing world. This reduction could save millions of dollars annually and lower morbidity and mortality in the affected populations.
Biomass smoke in Burkina Faso: what is the relationship between particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and kitchen characteristics?
Biomass smoke in Burkina Faso: what is the relationship between particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and kitchen characteristics? Environmental Science and Pollution Research, February 2014.
S. S. Yamamoto, V. R. Louis, A. Sié, R. Sauerborn
In Burkina Faso where cooking with biomass is very common, little information exists regarding kitchen characteristics and their impact on air pollutant levels. The measurement of air pollutants such as respirable particulate matter (PM10), an important component of biomass smoke that has been linked to adverse health outcomes, can also pose challenges in terms of cost and the type of equipment needed. Carbon monoxide could potentially be a more economical and simpler measure of air pollution.
The focus of this study was to first assess the association of kitchen characteristics with measured PM10 and CO levels and second, the relationship of PM10 with CO concentrations, across these different kitchen characteristics in households in Nouna, Burkina Faso. Twenty-four-hour concentrations of PM10 (area) were measured with portable monitors and CO (area and personal) estimated using color dosimeter tubes. Data on kitchen characteristics were collected through surveys. Most households used both wood and charcoal burned in three-stone and charcoal stoves. Mean outdoor kitchen PM10 levels were relatively high (774 μg/m3, 95 % CI 329–1,218 μg/m3), but lower than indoor concentrations (Satterthwaite t value, −6.14; p < 0.0001). In multivariable analyses, outdoor kitchens were negatively associated with PM10 (OR = 0.06, 95 % CI 0.02–0.16, p value <0.0001) and CO (OR = 0.03, 95 % CI 0.01–0.11, p value <0.0001) concentrations. Strong area PM10 and area CO correlations were found with indoor kitchens (Spearman’s r = 0.82, p < 0.0001), indoor stove use (Spearman’s r = 0.82, p < 0.0001), and the presence of a smoker in the household (Spearman’s r = 0.83, p < 0.0001).
Weak correlations between area PM10 and personal CO levels were observed with three-stone (Spearman’s r = 0.23, p = 0.008) and improved stoves (Spearman’s r = 0.34, p = 0.003). This indicates that the extensive use of biomass fuels and multiple stove types for cooking still produce relatively high levels of exposure, even outdoors, suggesting that both fuel subsidies and stove improvement programs are likely necessary to address this problem. These findings also indicate that area CO color dosimeter tubes could be a useful measure of area PM10 concentrations when levels are influenced by strong emission sources or when used in indoors. The weaker correlation observed between area PM10 and personal CO levels suggests that area exposures are not as useful as proxies for personal exposures, which can vary widely from those recorded by stationary monitors.
Survey: Solar LEDs replace kerosene and lower household expenses in Haiti | Source/Complete article: Rob Goodier, Engineering for Change, Feb 2014.
Excerpts: The study, a survey of households in Haiti, adds new evidence to claims that distributors have long held: Solar LEDs replace kerosene, save money, improve indoor air and increase safety and productivity. And good news for engineers, the respondents also suggested ways to improve the technology.
Two surveys, one door-to-door and the other by mobile phone, gathered responses from 102 rural Haitians who use the Luci inflatable solar lantern, manufactured by the US company MPOWERD Inc. MPOWERD has distributed 5000 lights in Haiti and 200,000 worldwide, 38,000 of which are in developing countries, the company told E4C.
In Haiti, the lights reduced the reliance on kerosene by 96 percent, the survey found. Ninety percent of the respondents reported a decline in breathing problems and eye irritation. Thirty percent reported higher productivity in the evening and 94 percent said that school children’s grades have been higher since using the lights, according to results from the GlobeScan Foundation, which led the study to measure MPOWERD’s impact in the region.
The lights don’t cost much – the suggested retail price is $14.99 in developing countries. So their cost appears to beat that of kerosene on the open market.
Before using the solar lights, most respondents reported spending $10-50 per month on kerosene, and 16 percent said they spent more than $50 per month on the fuel. After receiving the lights, 94 percent of the respondents reported spending less than $10 per month on kerosene.
Kerosene use did not cease entirely and two-thirds of the respondents said that they still spend time gathering fuel and candles for light, even after using the solar LEDs. That may be because families use kerosene or similar fuels for cooking, says Jacques-Philippe Piverger, MPOWERD’s CEO and co-founder. The families may may also supplement a solar light with a kerosene lantern when they need it, Piverger says.
- Source/Complete article: Rob Goodier, Engineering for Change, Feb 2014.
Creating a saleable health product from clean cookstoves: Lao PDR, 2014.
Four Good Reasons to Try in Lao PDR
1. Convincing evidence that cooking over open fires and with woody biomass is a major cause of disease, including in Lao PDR:
- Laos may have highest burden of disease in world from household air pollution from biomass smoke
- 223,000 years of life lost (YLL) worth 3.5% of GDP, assuming YLL as lost productivity using GDP per capita
2. Health Performance metric exists: Averted DALYs
- WHO recognized measure of burden of disease
3. Improved measurement and analytical tools now exist to understand pollution exposure-response relationship
- Pioneering work by Professor Kirk Smith and colleagues at University of California, Berkeley, has created tools to quantify and price reductions in DALYs
4. Firewood and woody biomass stove technology has matured rapidly over the past three years
- clean modern wood-burning cookstoves are now commercially available at scale, including Phillips Gasifier stove (from Africa Clean Energy) and Biolite (even charge cell phone), USA.
Innovative Health Impacts: Result Based Financing to Promote Clean Cookstoves, 2014.
Heather Adair-Rohani, WHO.
Why Use DALYs?
- More inclusive measure of population health that includes both mortality & morbidity
- Quantifiable & reflects epidemiological shifts in disease
- Comparability: useful for assessing & prioritizing public health policy and intervention options
- Some examples of being used previously to assess/prioritize public health interventions (e.g. water quality in both developed & developing countries)
Solid fuel use is a major risk factor for acute coronary syndromes among rural women: a matched case control study. Public Health, Jan 2014.
Authors: Z Fatami, et al.Objectives - Almost half of the world’s population uses solid fuel for cooking, exposing women to high levels of particulate pollution in indoor air. The risk of acute coronary syndrome (ACS) was assessed among rural women, according to their use of solid fuel. Study design - Matched case control study. Methods - Data were collected at a public tertiary care hospital in a rural district of Pakistan. Seventy-three women with ACS were compared with controls, individually matched for sex and age (±5 years), who were admitted to hospital for other reasons. Fuels used for cooking and exposures to potentially confounding variables were ascertained through a questionnaire administered at interview and measurement of height and weight. Conditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs). Results - After adjustment for potential confounding factors, current use of solid fuel was strongly associated with ACS (OR 4.8, 95% CI: 1.5–14.8), and risk was lowest in women who had last used solid fuel more than 15 years earlier. The population attributable fraction for ACS in relation to current use of solid fuel was 49.0% (95% CI: 41.3%–57.4%). Conclusions - These findings support the hypothesis that indoor air pollution from use of solid fuel is an important cause of ACS. Our study demonstrates the feasibility of case-control studies in rural populations of women to address this question, and is an encouragement to larger and statistically more powerful investigations.
This Community is facilitated by the USAID WASHplus project. We hope this Community will serve as a crowdsourcing platform to share information and collaborate on issues/problems that are faced by researchers and practitioners. We welcome your comments and participation. Please give a brief introduction about your work and interests when you join the community. Also, please suggest topics for discussion.
- The link is: http://goo.gl/JhNAak
Dan Campbell, Knowledge Resources Specialist
1825 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington DC 20009
Phone: (202) 884-8887
Biomass fuel use and the exposure of children to particulate air pollution in southern Nepal. Env International, May 2014.
Authors: D. Devakumara, et al.
The exposure of children to air pollution in low resource settings is believed to be high because of the common use of biomass fuels for cooking. We used microenvironment sampling to estimate the respirable fraction of air pollution (particles with median diameter less than 4 μm) to which 7–9 year old children in southern Nepal were exposed. Sampling was conducted for a total 2649 h in 55 households, 8 schools and 8 outdoor locations of rural Dhanusha.
We conducted gravimetric and photometric sampling in a subsample of the children in our study in the locations in which they usually resided (bedroom/living room, kitchen, veranda, in school and outdoors), repeated three times over one year. Using time activity information, a 24-hour time weighted average was modeled for all the children in the study. Approximately two-thirds of homes used biomass fuels, with the remainder mostly using gas.
The exposure of children to air pollution was very high. The 24-hour time weighted average over the whole year was 168 μg/m3. The non-kitchen related samples tended to show approximately double the concentration in winter than spring/autumn, and four times that of the monsoon season. There was no difference between the exposure of boys and girls. Air pollution in rural households was much higher than the World Health Organization and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Nepal recommendations for particulate exposure.
An Integrated Risk Function for Estimating the Global Burden of Disease Attributable to Ambient Fine Particulate Matter Exposure
An Integrated Risk Function for Estimating the Global Burden of Disease Attributable to Ambient Fine Particulate Matter Exposure. Environ Health Perspect; 2014, DOI:10.1289/ehp.1307049
Authors: Richard T. Burnett, et al.
Background: Estimating the burden of disease attributable to long-term exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in ambient air requires knowledge of both the shape and magnitude of the relative risk function (RR). However, there is inadequate direct evidence to identify the shape of the mortality RR functions at high ambient concentrations observed in many places in the world.
Objective: Develop relative risk (RR) functions over entire global exposure range for causes of mortality in adults: ischemic heart disease (IHD), cerebrovascular disease (stroke), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer (LC). In addition, develop RR functions for the incidence of acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) that can be used to estimate mortality and lost-years of healthy life in children less than 5 years old.
Methods: An Integrated Exposure-Response (IER) model was fit by integrating available RR information from studies of ambient air pollution (AAP), second hand tobacco smoke (SHS), household solid cooking fuel (HAP), and active smoking (AS). AS exposures were converted to estimated annual PM2.5 exposure equivalents using inhaled doses of particle mass. Population attributable fractions (PAF) were derived for every country based on estimated world-wide ambient PM2.5concentrations.
Results: The IER model was a superior predictor of RR compared to seven other forms previously used in burden assessments. The PAF (%) attributable to AAP exposure varied among countries from: 2-41 for IHD, 1-43 for stroke, < 1-21 for COPD, < 1-25 for LC, and < 1-38 for ALRI.
Conclusions: We developed a fine particulate mass-based RR model that covered the global range of exposure by integrating RR information from different combustion types that generate emissions of particulate matter. The model can be updated as new RR information becomes available.
Impact Evaluation of Improved Cooking Stoves in Burkina Faso, 2013.
Director Policy and Operations Evaluations Department (IOB). Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Netherlands.
This report combines the results of two rigorous impact studies on activities implemented by FAFASO: one study on portable metallic ICS for domestic use and one on fixed ICS for use by artisanal beer brewers (most of whom are female). The evaluation was set out to answer two main questions: firstly, if the development of a market for ICS has triggered uptake of ICS by households and productive units and, secondly, what the impacts have been in terms of reducing wood energy use, saving money and time, and improving the workload and health of the users.
How do People in Rural India Perceive Improved Stoves and Clean Fuel? Evidence from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(2), 1341-1358.
Authors: Vasundhara Bhojvaid, et al.
Improved cook stoves (ICS) have been widely touted for their potential to deliver the triple benefits of improved household health and time savings, reduced deforestation and local environmental degradation, and reduced emissions of black carbon, a significant short-term contributor to global climate change. Yet diffusion of ICS technologies among potential users in many low-income settings, including India, remains slow, despite decades of promotion.
This paper explores the variation in perceptions of and preferences for ICS in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, as revealed through a series of semi-structured focus groups and interviews from 11 rural villages or hamlets. We find cautious interest in new ICS technologies, and observe that preferences for ICS are positively related to perceptions of health and time savings. Other respondent and community characteristics, e.g., gender, education, prior experience with clean stoves and institutions promoting similar technologies, and social norms as perceived through the actions of neighbours, also appear important. Though they cannot be considered representative, our results suggest that efforts to increase adoption and use of ICS in rural India will likely require a combination of supply-chain improvements and carefully designed social marketing and promotion campaigns, and possibly incentives, to reduce the up-front cost of stoves.
March 5 EPA/Winrock Webinar – Charcoal Briquette Enterprise Development: Lessons from the Harvest Fuel Initiative
EPA/Winrock Webinar on Charcoal Briquette Enterprise Development: Lessons from the Harvest Fuel Initiative
- March, 5, 2014, 10:00 a.m – 11:30 a.m Eastern Standard Time (EST).
Charcoal briquettes made from various types of biomass feedstock have the potential to displace unsustainably produced charcoal and significantly reduce biomass consumption, but there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration before scaling up briquetting enterprises. Both the business and technology aspects need to be fully developed and tested before any attempt at reaching scale is made. Some of the questions to consider include:
- How do we ensure that the briquettes produced are quality, clean burning products?
- How do we determine which cookstove technologies are most appropriate to use with charcoal briquettes?
- What are the consumer’s needs and how can we produce briquettes that people want to use?
- What are some potential business models that can be applied to briquette enterprises, and what tools and resources are needed for them to be sustainable?
Join the Winrock and U.S. EPA “Charcoal Briquette Enterprise Development” webinar on Wednesday, March 5th to hear lessons learned from the Harvest Fuel Initiative’s business- and technology-driven partnership approach for scaling up carbonized briquettes as quality, sustainable, and viable alternatives to charcoal in East Africa. The Harvest Fuel Initiative is a collaboration between The Charcoal Project and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s D-Lab to promote biomass fuel alternatives and clean combustion technologies in the developing world.
Cookstove designs are failing the poorest communities | Source/complete article: Guardian Sustainable Business Blog, Feb 7, 2014.
Excerpts – Cookstoves are desperately needed in refugee camps but current designs aren’t working. Bottom-up innovation is vital.
With all the knowledge and technology we have at our disposal, why is it proving so difficult to design and create simple and efficient cookstoves for the three billion people who use them in the developing world?
This is the question posed by T. Alexander Aleinikoff, the United Nations deputy high commissioner for refugees, who complains that stoves are being designed with little thought for the people who use them.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) gets sent a steady stream of newly designed cookstoves from entrepreneurs around the world, but none of them has so far come up to scratch.
Every year around four million people die from smoke inhalation. Inefficient stoves, which rely on solid fuels, also contribute to climate change and deforestation.
“We’re in the situation where everybody and his brother has invented a cookstove and none of them have really worked well for us,’ says Aleinikoff.
“I’ve been in refugee camps where large, beautiful solar cookstoves were used as storage places because they didn’t cook the food fast enough.”
Aleinikoff says designers mistakenly think they can come up with a one-size-fits-all approach, failing to understand the cultural complexity of cooking or the conditions in which the stoves are used.
“The stoves that we get are from people who sat in laboratories and said ‘gee this kind of gas is very efficient’. But what does it cook? What is the food refugees want to cook? When do they cook it? How does it fit into their social and cultural patterns?”
He says the UNHCR needs to become more innovative in its approach, as the current organisational culture does not encourage flexibility among field staff to adapt to different circumstances.
Aleinikoff says: “When I was in Dollo Ado [Ethiopia] this last week, I was standing in one part of the camp and there were these mesh structures and I said ‘what are these?’, and was told ‘these are the kitchens we’ve built outside the homes but no-one’s using them; they didn’t work’. ‘Who designed them?’ I asked. ‘We designed them back in headquarters’ was the response.”
Aleinikoff points to some areas around refugee camps that have been virtually stripped of trees, and says this also causes conflicts with the established local community.
Per Heggenes, the CEO of the Ikea Foundation, which has formed a strategic partnership with the UNHCR, believes this is exactly the type of area in which philanthropy can make a practical difference.
- Source/complete article: Guardian Sustainable Business Blog, Feb 7, 2014.
‘Oorja’ in India: Assessing a large-scale commercial distribution of advanced biomass stoves to households
‘Oorja’ in India: Assessing a large-scale commercial distribution of advanced biomass stoves to households. Energy for Sustainable Development, Feb 2014.
Mark C. Thurber, et al.
• A unit of BP and its successor First Energy sold > 400,000 “Oorja” stoves in India.
• Significant adoption driven by value proposition of Oorja fuel vis-à-vis LPG.
• Difficulty keeping pelletized biomass fuel affordable led to a steep drop in use.
• Messages on the health dangers of smoke were absorbed but did not help sales.
• Business-oriented approach facilitated scaling and, later, a pivot to commercial users.
Replacing traditional stoves with advanced alternatives that burn more cleanly has the potential to ameliorate major health problems associated with indoor air pollution in developing countries. With a few exceptions, large government and charitable programs to distribute advanced stoves have not had the desired impact. Commercially-based distributions that seek cost recovery and even profits might plausibly do better, both because they encourage distributors to supply and promote products that people want and because they are based around properly incentivized supply chains that could more be scalable, sustainable, and replicable.
The sale in India of over 400,000 “Oorja” stoves to households from 2006 onwards represents the largest commercially-based distribution of a gasification-type advanced biomass stove. BP’s Emerging Consumer Markets (ECM) division and then successor company First Energy sold this stove and the pelletized biomass fuel on which it operates. We assess the success of this effort and the role its commercial aspect played in outcomes using a survey of 998 households in areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka where the stove was sold as well as detailed interviews with BP and First Energy staff. Statistical models based on this data indicate that Oorja purchase rates were significantly influenced by the intensity of Oorja marketing in a region as well as by pre-existing stove mix among households.
The highest rate of adoption came from LPG-using households for which Oorja’s pelletized biomass fuel reduced costs. Smoke- and health-related messages from Oorja marketing did not significantly influence the purchase decision, although they did appear to affect household perceptions about smoke. By the time of our survey, only 9% of households that purchased Oorja were still using the stove, the result in large part of difficulties First Energy encountered in developing a viable supply chain around low-cost procurement of “agricultural waste” to make pellets.
The business orientation of First Energy allowed the company to pivot rapidly to commercial customers when the household market encountered difficulties. The business background of managers also facilitated the initial marketing and distribution efforts that allowed the stove distribution to reach scale.
Fogarty posts indoor air pollution training resources, Source: FIC News, January / February 2014
With indoor air pollution contributing to nearly 2 million deaths each year, it is a serious health problem, particularly in low-resource settings. NIH recently hosted a workshop to help develop the expertise needed to study exposures and their health impacts, as well as evaluate the effectiveness of possible solutions. Those training materials are now available on the Fogarty website to expand their reach to others interested in this specialized field. Topics include the evolution of cookstoves, ventilation solutions, exposure assessment and possible strategies to encourage adoption of cleaner cooking methods, among others.
Global health groups have launched numerous programs to combat indoor air pollution in low- and middle-income countries, but questions remain about their effectiveness in improving health in the targeted households. More research is essential to maximize success.
NIH participates in the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership led by the U.N. Foundation to improve livelihoods, empower women and children, and combat climate change by creating a sustainable market for clean and efficient cooking stoves and fuels.
- Access training materials from the NIH 2012 Household Air Pollution Research Training Institute on clean cookstove research, use, testing and adoption.
- Access a collection of Indoor Air Pollution and cookstove resources.