Cleaner Cook Stoves for a Healthier Indonesia

November 3, 2014

More than 24 million families in Indonesia cook with old traditional cook stoves which use firewood. These old stoves are considered ‘cheap’ – but families are unaware that the smoke produced by the stoves causes serious health risks.

The World Bank

  • 24 million out of 60 million households in Indonesia still use traditional biomass, usually tree branches, for cooking.
  • Traditional stoves produce indoor air pollution which cause illnesses that lead to about 165,000 premature deaths every year. Clean and affordable stoves can help reduce this healthcare hazard.
  • The Clean Stoves Initiative is helping develop better cook stoves models. It also supports producers with marketing training.

Yogyakarta, Indonesia, November 3, 2014 – Ratinem, a farmer living in Central Java, explains why she uses a traditional stove that uses tree bark for fuel. She gathers the wood, she says, from nearby fields. 

“I use a traditional cook stove because it’s cheap. I don’t have to buy gas,” says the mother of three.

Ratinem’s family is among the 24.5 million households in Indonesia who use traditional biomass for cooking. Unaware that smoke they inhale from the stoves cause illnesses,  families keep cooking with traditional stoves because they are considered cheaper. Women and children are particularly vulnerable because mothers, lacking help for child-care, often have their children closeby when cooking.

“I don’t think that my family’s health has been affected,” Ratinem says. “We are all fine. Sometimes my children cough but that’s normal.”

About 165,000 Indonesians die prematurely every year from illnesses, such as respiratory diseases, caused by indoor air pollution.

Limited supplies

In rural areas across Indonesia, biomass such as tree branches can be obtained for free. Families simply gather branches from nearby wooded areas.  Even if the wood has to purchased, it is still very cheap.

Producers are reluctant to create better cook stoves because there is barely any consumer demand. The market has remained under-developed.

Biomass cook stoves sold commercially are made by small producers with poor quality control.

If the government doesn’t encourage people to use clean stoves, more families will use the dirty traditional stoves.

The Dian Desa Foundation, run by Christine Aristanti, produces clean stove models and also works with communities in raising public awareness about health hazards.

“We have to raise people’s awareness of the importance of having a healthy cook stove in the kitchen,” says Christine Aristanti. “We need to touch on what is most important for families, so that they are willing to invest in a better stove. From what we have observed, families want one that is cheap, clean, and easy to use.”

" We have to raise people’s awareness of the importance of having a healthy cook stove in the kitchen "

Christine Aristanti

The Dian Desa Foundation

Clean Stove Initiative to support universal access to clean cooking by 2030

The World Bank, in collaboration with Indonesia’s Directorate of Bioenergy, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, launched the Indonesia Clean Stove Initiative in 2012. The aim is to scale up access to clean cooking solutions for families who will likely continue using solid fuels beyond 2030.

“One of the government’s responsibilities is to provide clean and affordable energy for communities. Through the initiative, we aim to help provide families with an energy source that is efficient and healthier,” says Rida Mulyana, Director General of New, Renewable Energy and Energy Conversion at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.

In May 2014, two grant agreements were signed by the World Bank and the Government of Indonesia, to support implementation until December 2015. 

The grant will help with, among other things, the market development framework and the design and preparation of the clean cook stoves program. The grant will also be used to provide subsidies for clean stove sales in the pilot area, which will focus on Central Java and Yogyakarta.

While preparation for the production for better cook stoves is underway, the government is also drafting standards for future cook stoves.

“We need to have a regulation on the health and safety effects of biomass cook stoves because it will affect the health of millions,” said Muhammad Irsan from the Ministry’s Research and Development Unit.