Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stove for the Developing World’s Health

I have a new pet, social project that I feel will be a great benefit for some of the rural areas which I visit every year. It has to do with the ineffecient cooking systems that a typical home uses in places such as Nepal, Bhutan, Peru and Tanzania. The solution is the introduction and distribution of a very efficient wood-burning (or yak-dung burning) cook stove which has the dual benefit of being very fuel efficient (environmentally friendly) and dramatically reducing the indoor air pollution (huge health issue/benefit). I heard about the stove when we were in Bhutan last October. It's a US design and is manufactured in India - 120,000 have been sold in the last three years in India .... it's very real - proven in the field, and in it's second generation of the basic design.

80% of rural households in developing countries cook with solid fuels like wood, coal, crop residues and dung. In many instances, women cook around open fires, typically with a pot atop three large stones and a wood fire in the middle.
Indoor air pollution, including smoke, carbon monoxide and other products of incomplete combustion, is a major environmental and health risk factor.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1.6 million people a year die of health effects resulting from toxic indoor air. The problem disproportionately falls on women and children who spend hours each day around the hearth. Of that 1.6 million, one million children die of pneumonia, and 600,000 women die prematurely of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases like bronchitis and emphysema.

For decades, numerous small-scale efforts to introduce improved stoves in countries like China, India and Nepal have achieved modest gains.

Envirofit was formed in 2003 and researchers and engineers are designing and testing clean-burning stoves that they say will significantly improve air quality and require less fuel.
Envirofit will offer a variety of sleek ceramic stoves from single to multipot, with and without chimneys.
[As of early 2010 Envirofit has manufactured and sold more than 120,000 stoves in India]

Reduces smoke and harmful gasses by up to 80%
Reduces biomass fuel use by up to 60%
Reduces cooking time by up to 50%

The G-3355 Double pot accessory with chimney is the perfect add-on for customers who want the portability and ease of using the single-pot stove, but need the extra cooking area for large families, festivals, or cooking for visitors.

The attachment is easily moved onto or off of the stove for quick change ability but is steady and sturdy while attached.
The chimney portion can be used as is - to move any minimal emissions out of the face of the person cooking - or can be vented out of the home.

MVX can buy the stoves and 2-pot kit and deliver them in Kathmandu for less than $100. We will do the fund-raising in the US (and England, and New Zealand, and wherever we can find a constituency), starting initially through the climbing community, but reaching out as broadly as we can - "change a family's life for $100" (and help protect the local environment as well - still working on "the message").

My goal is to distribute 10,000 of the stoves over the next five years in the Himalayan Region.It could of course be expanded to other areas, worldwide, though the nature of the item is such that transportation costs are significant - pretty easy to get them from India to Nepal by truck, but a bit more complex and costly to Africa or other destinations. We will, later this month, send a sample shipment (several dozen stoves and 2-pot units) to K-du for evaluation and trial.

This product is right in line with how MVX operates in the world of adventure travel and I hope to continue the quest to "add" anything we can to show our appreciation for the wonders of the world which we visit.