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FEATURE STORY

Clean Stoves Bring a Better Life

May 7, 2014

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Some 2.8 billion people worldwide rely on open-fire stoves that burn solid fuels. But the smoke from these stoves harms the environment and can be blamed for 4 million premature deaths every year.
  • How can these people have better access to cleaner and more efficient cooking and heating? The East Asia and Pacific Clean Stove Initiative Forum brought up solutions.
  • The forum also served to promote South-South collaboration, learning, and knowledge-sharing on access to modern energy at the household level.

Beijing, China – Some 2.8 billion people worldwide rely on solid fuels, such as wood, coal, and crop residue to cook and heat their homes. Most of them use primitive open fires or poor-quality stoves that burn solid fuels inefficiently with poor combustion, releasing toxic pollutants.

The smoke from these stoves harms the environment and can be blamed for 4 million premature deaths each year, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010.

How can these people have better access to cleaner and more efficient cooking and heating?

At the East Asia and Pacific Clean Stove Initiative (CSI) Forum that took place in Beijing on April 28, participants from China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Cambodia, Vietnam, Honduras, and Guatemala shared their thoughts.  

The Forum is part of the East Asia and Pacific Clean Stove Initiative, a regional program that aims to achieve universal access to modern cooking and heating solutions in the region, particularly focusing on poor and rural households, who are likely to continue using solid fuels beyond 2030.

With funding support from the Australian Government, Asia Sustainable and Alternative Energy Program, and Energy Sector Management Assistance Program, the initiative includes four country-specific programs (China, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Lao PDR) and a regional forum to promote collaboration, learning, and knowledge-sharing on access to modern energy at the household level.

Country Programs

Representatives from China, Indonesia, Mongolia and Lao PDR introduced their respective programs and talked about the opportunities and challenges in expanding the clean stoves market.

Seumkham Thoummavongasa, Director, Ministry of Energy and Mines of Lao PDR, said that for his country, established distribution channels, high demand, low production costs, and consumer interest provided good prospects for the clean stove industry to grow.  But certain challenges linger, such as limited skilled labor capacity, limited standardization which results in minimum quality control.

Mongolia faces similar issues, said Erdenetsogt, Secretary, National Committee for Air Pollution Reduction. Besides, in Mongolia, due to lack of regulation, herders who received a subsidized clean stove tend to re-sell it for income.

To resolve these challenges, Wang Jiuchen, Deputy Director, Rural Energy and Environment Agency, Ministry of Agriculture of China, emphasized on the importance of a synergy between government, market and education of rural residents. “Before in China, we provided agricultural skills trainings to rural residents. Now we realized it is also important to educate them about modern and ‘civilized’ living so that they will recognize small things such as a clean stove can make a big impact on their quality of life,” he said.   

“We have launched the call for stove technologies in February and will soon launch the call for market aggregators to invite interested private sector to develop the clean stove market in Indonesia,” said Anna Rufaida, Head of Subdirectorate of Investment and Cooperation, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources of Indonesia.

Open Quotes

The benefits of promoting clean stoves are many, including better health, reduced emissions, less deforestation, improved gender equality, and less pressure on the local and global environment. Close Quotes

Wang Yanliang
Deputy Director General, Department of Science, Technology and Education, Ministry of Agriculture

Private Sector Development and Results-Based Financing

At the forum, industry experts also held a panel discussion on the pains and gains of entering the stove sector, the promising business models and delivery mechanisms and other good practices in the stove industry.  

Awareness-raising campaigns have made a difference, said Wen Feng, manager at a clean stove manufacturer in China. 

“We used social media to market the benefits of clean stoves and raise awareness about the negative health impacts of indoor air pollution linked to biomass cooking smoke,” she said.

Other takeaways from the discussion include that globalization opens a new door to new market where clean stoves are more affordable. Besides, corporate social responsibility also has a role to play in incentivizing private sectors to provide clean and affordable stoves.

All of the panelists talked about “smart” subsidies for clean stove consumers and manufacturers. So, in this sense, regulations and a strong monitoring system are important. Results-based financing can be a good solution, they agreed.

Unlike traditional public procurement, which uses public resources to purchase the inputs and contract service providers to deliver them to users, the results-based financing approach uses private-sector resources to finance the inputs and service delivery and public resources to reimburse the service provider upon delivery of the pre-defined results.

“This can mean better use of public funds and improved support of market interventions,” said Li Jingming, Division of Renewable Energy, Ministry of Agriculture of China, as he reported the experience and lessons learned from the results-based financing pilot in two villages in China, supported by the Clean Stove Initiative.

Extended Platform for Sharing, Exchange and Collaboration

As an extension of the program, the Clean Stove Initiative e-Forum was launched during the Forum.

“Household cooking and heating is a complicated issue and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, many challenges are the same and we can learn from each other’s experiences,” said Yabei Zhang, a senior energy economist at the World Bank, who leads the Clean Stove Initiative. “Beyond this annual gathering, we invite partners to join the e-Forum, which can be accessed anytime and anywhere to share, exchange, and collaborate.”

The next phase of the initiative is to sustain the implementation of national action plans, establish effective monitoring and evaluation systems and mobilize more private sector participation, said Charles Feinstein, Manager of Energy and Water, East Asia and Pacific, World Bank.

“The benefits of promoting clean stoves are many, including better health, reduced emissions, less deforestation, improved gender equality, and less pressure on the local and global environment,” said Wang Yanliang, Deputy Director General, Department of Science, Technology and Education, Ministry of Agriculture.

Expanding access to clean stoves will contribute significantly to China’s goal to build “new countryside”, he said.

Like Wang, at the Forum, participants from other countries also expressed a strong will to sustain their efforts in bringing clean cooking/heating solutions.

In addition to this Forum, other knowledge exchange activities were also organized for the delegations during the 4-day event (April 26-29), including a visit to China’s 8th Clean Stove Expo, visits to stove manufacturers in Hebei Province and the stove testing lab of China Agriculture University, and a workshop hosted by Ministry of Agriculture on China’s experiences and South-South collaboration opportunities for promoting clean cooking and heating solutions.