Training on improved cook-stove construction for rural women in India
Approximately half of those living in developing countries rely on traditional biomass for cooking. According to IEA, the International Energy Agency, around 815 million people in India use inefficient and polluting means for cooking (IEA 2014). This contributes not only to environmental degradation and greenhouse gas emissions, but also poses serious health hazards, especially for women and children, who are most involved in household cooking; more than 100,000 children die annually in the country from household air pollution (GACC 2014).
Through its Programme for the Development of Alternative Biofuel Crops, the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is partnering with TIDE, a Bangalore-based NGO with expertise in producing improved cook-stoves. These efficient stoves, called Sarala, have several advantages compared to traditional ones. They are virtually smokeless, more energy-efficient (reducing both the need for fuel and the time needed for cooking), and are built with locally available and affordable materials.
On 4 January 2015, ICRAF and TIDE promoted a training on improved cook stove construction for local communities in the district of Hassan, Karnataka State, India. Thirty women, invited from the villages where the Programme is being implemented, received practical demonstration on the benefits of Sarala stoves, as well as hands-on training on how to make them. The one-day event also provided an opportunity for discussions and feedback from the community on their utilization of energy resources and adoption of agroforestry systems.
A baseline survey conducted by the programme indicates that access to modern energy sources is a crucial issue for livelihoods in these villages, as most people rely on traditional fuels like firewood and kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting. ICRAF is working to change this reality by promoting not only widespread utilization of improved cook stoves, but also the adoption of cleaner and more efficient renewable fuels. In particular, the Centre is testing and evaluating, in partnership with the University of Agricultural Sciences of Bangalore, several options for producing briquettes from waste biomass, such as oilseed cake and husks, to replace firewood and charcoal for cooking. These waste materials are abundant in the region, as a result of the increased adoption by local farmers of the agroforestry systems, which integrate food and bioenergy production by growing several native oilseed tree species along with annual crops.
—By Babita Bohra
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