Clean Cookstoves in India
Access to energy is a key component of alleviating poverty and an indispensable element for human development. Over 45% of the India’s population is currently denied energy access; nearly 70% of the population lives in villages and shares a much larger burden of poverty as well as energy poverty which manifests itself as shortage of power for agricultural operations; increased drudgery associated with collection of fuelwood and water; and inadequate lighting that adversely impacts household functioning, children’s education and safety of women and girls.
CARE India with CARE France is implementing a four-year SWITCH Asia-II facility initiative that seeks to increase the adoption of sustainable lifestyles among Forest Dwelling Households (FDHs) in the Indian State of Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The action adopts an incremental approach to increase the awareness of women on clean energy options for household use, facilitate acquisition of Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) financial and technical interventions, and influence men and other stakeholders in the ICS ecosystem to be supportive of women’s endeavors for clean energy transition. Towards this, the project is adopting innovative, women-led extension methodologies and tools, and engaging women leaders from existing Self Help Groups (SHGs) as Sustainable Household Energy (SHE)-Champions for peer influence and education on Sustainable Consumption and Production.
Clean energy financing is one of the areas for exploration and intervention to ensure sustainable adoption of ICS, especially by the poor. So far, the project has been able to segregate three categories of FDHs – (a) households who may not be able to afford a USD 22-25 ICS ever; (b) households who may be able to pay the price of an ICS in instalments (pay-as-you-go or ICS-linked credit); and (c) households that can save or dip into their existing savings and buy the ICS in one go.
In November 2018, CARE India leveraged the support of the State Forest Department in Odisha to enable 22 tribal FDHs in Dorapida village to purchase ICS. Women from all these households participated as members of Sustainable Household Energy Schools (SHE-School), a platform formed to facilitate deliberations and learning among women on problems in cooking in traditional cook stoves and benefits of ICS as clean cooking option. The project facilitated discussion between the project participants and the Forest Department to explore options for support. The Forest Department officials also participated in village level dialogue where women shared the benefits of ICS in terms of firewood saving and comfort while cooking. An action-focused discussion between women and the Forest Department’s representative was subsequently organized wherein a decision was undertaken that the project participants would be offered opportunities for undertaking daily wage labour by the Forest Department so that the wage they earn could be invested in purchasing ICS.
Encouraged by the offer, members from these 22 households undertook cleaning, trenching and plantation activities in their nearby forest under the supervision of the local Vana Samrakshyan Samiti (Forest Protection Committee) and utilized the earned wage to purchase an ICS from the Buyer-Seller Meet organized in their locality by the project.
By Rekha Panigrahi, Project Manager of SWITCH-Asia II project, CARE India