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The Smokeless Cookstove Revolution

Jul 31, 2017

The Smokeless Cookstove project helps saving one million lives by eliminating smoke from households!

Mumbai: Nitisha Agrawal, a Mumbai resident who quit her lucrative corporate career to pursue work in development sector, is excited to announce that the Smokeless Cookstove Revolution (SCR) launched a Crowd Funding campaign today. The funds raised will go towards supporting the project for the coming months whilethey set up the legal structures required to receive grants from Foundations who are looking to fund exactly this kind of life changing initiative.

About the project, SCR is a project saving lives by teaching rural villagers how to make clean burningchulhas without any cost. It has the ambitious target of saving over 1 million lives in the coming 10 years. Nitisha has gone into the field numerous times with this project sincelate last year, and having seen the impact it can have, she is now dedicating all her passion to this cause.

The idea started when Australian inventor Russell Collins was experimenting with clay as a material for his stoves in Ladakh. He was working on a social enterprise called Himalayan Rocket Stove in the mountains when he realized that he couldn’t get the high-tech materials he needed to make his stoves work.

After searching for a local solution, he came up with a way of using clay that changed its nature from being heat absorbing to heat repelling. This made it possible to make claytubes for his commercial stoves, and in the process, came to realise that he had stumbled on a simple and incredibly affordable way to make smokeless chulhas (cookstoves) using well established ‘rocket stove’ technology. He decided to start a not for-profit project in parallel with his commercial stove venture, and called it the‘Smokeless Cookstove Revolution’.

Not having the time to run both projects himself, he trained some of his staff in the methods, and was fortuitous to meet Nitisha who was taking time out from her career toseek more meaningful work in the world. The meeting proved to be the right thing at the right time for Nitisha, and she embraced the opportunity to take on the project.

She has been working tirelessly since late 2016 taking the work into remote regions that aredesperate in need of this technology. Workshops have been conducted in Dharwad (Karnataka); Khandwa (Madhya Pradesh); New Delhi, Chandigarh, Kanha Tiger Reservein Mandla District of Madhya Pradesh. As the crowd funding rolls out, the team is set to leave for Bundlekhand district in Uttar Pradesh for a grueling workshop schedule. As of today, using their own resources to prove the viability of the project, SCR team have run workshops in eight regions and impacted the lives of over 500 families. The team has also done a pilot workshop with Pharma major’s Glenmark Foundation in Khandwa region of Madhya Pradesh.

The Smokeless Cookstove Revolution addresses three key issues facing people and the environment, being deforestation, women’s health, and air pollution, which includes both indoor and outdoor smoke. Household Air Pollution is one of India’s most devastating killers, claiming more lives each year than HIV, Malaria and TB combined, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) figures. This amounts to 1 million premature deaths in India and more than 4 million globally.

Based on case studies of fuel consumption along with the efficiency ratings of rocket stoves, Russell estimates that each ‘rocket stove’ chulha will reduce the demand for fuel by at least 50%, if not more. This reduces the impact on precious forest resources as well as the time spent gathering fuel. Reduced need for fuel frees up time and hardship for village women and children who tend to do most of the foraging for wood.

Around the world, 3 billion people cook over open fires or on rudimentary stoves. The cooking fuels used by 40 percent of humanity are wood, charcoal, animal dung, crop residues, and coal. As these burn, often inside homes or in areas with limited ventilation, they release plumes of smoke and soot liable for 4.3 million premature deaths each year. Traditional cooking practices also produce 2 to 5 percent of annual greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.

Rocket stoves, when designed well, burn cleanly and emit little in the way of noxious fumes. Using far less fuel than a traditional chulha and being much less polluting with the wood they do burn, a Smokeless Chulha is a breath of fresh air for the choked homes and hearths of the nearly these 3 billion people still using traditional cooking methods around the world.

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