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View the documentHousehold energy in high regions
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View the documentStoves used for cooking, water heating and space heating at high altitude in Nepal - a case study in Jumla
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Dissemination of improved stoves in Nepal

B B Gurung, CARE International in Nepal

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Nepal is a small landlocked country situated between India and China. The population is over 21 million, of whom 90 per cent live in rural areas. There are no significant fossil fuel resources in Nepal and all petroleum products have to be imported from abroad. Rural people are fully dependent on fuelwood for energy. Studies show that the average fuelwood consumption per capita is very large (708 kg/year). The diminishing forest area has alarmed policy makers and planners into taking some immediate measures to reduce the fuelwood consumption. Greater environmental awareness is also a major factor in Nepal.

Introduction of improved stoves

Options and measures to optimize the use of fuelwood were explored. The introduction of Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) was one of them. Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) were first introduced by the Department of Agriculture (DOA) of Nepal in early 1950s. Other organizations like the Research Center for Applied Science and Technology (RECAST), and the Peace Corps also tried to disseminate the idea of ICS in the rural areas in 1970s but could not continue. Later, the Community Forest Development Programme (CFDP) in collaboration with RECAST started promoting ICS. The stoves promoted by CFDP used ceramic inserts made in Kathmandu.

CARE International in Nepal (CARE/N)

Early experiences

CARE International in Nepal (CARE/N) has been involved in various development activities in Nepal since 1978. The CARE/N working policy is based on an integrated approach and community participation in development activities.

Using an integrated approach, CARE/N started promoting ICS in late 1980s as part of the Small Farmer Community Project (SFCP). This was a joint project of CARE/N and the Agricultural Development Bank of Nepal (ADBN). Its major focus was on improvement of farmer-managed irrigation systems followed by forestry and agriculture extension. CARE/N used the ceramic inserts which had been made and promoted in Kathmandu. However, they were not well accepted by the community because:

· The set of ceramic inserts consisting of a number of fragile tubes, which were not locally made, were difficult to transport intact from Kathmandu.

· Some parts could be broken when cleaning the chimney.

· Once installed, if a part of the ceramic ICS was broken it was almost impossible to replace.

Current work of CARE/N

Learning from the drawbacks of the ceramic ICS, improvements were made. The present model of ICS is found to be more appropriate in rural areas as the stoves can be easily made using local materials. Presently CARE/N is promoting the new stoves in its seven working districts in remote areas of Nepal. The Center for Rural Technology (CRT) is providing training on improved Cook Stoves. The status of installation of ICS in CARE/N working areas is shown in Table 1.

Merits of ICS:

The ICS has major advantages over the traditional stoves. The main features are as below:

· Appreciable reduction of smoke in house

- eye irritation and inhaling of smoke reduced significantly
- babies and small children less affected by smoke
- less soot on clothes, walls and house

· Easier and faster to cook

- no chance of soot falling on the food
- constant feeding with fire sticks not required, saving time for other work
- food is burnt less often
- faster cooking

· Fuel efficient

- less fuelwood consumption and thus less fuelwood collection
- efficient use of flame
- sticks get burnt more efficiently
- the effect of wind is nil

· Safer for users, children and babies

- less chances of bums for users
- less danger for children or babies falling into the fire
- less chance of mattresses, beds and roofs catching fire

· Easy to install and repair

- the bricks can be locally made, no need to purchase anything from outside
- broken parts can be easily repaired or replaced
- easy to replicate
- no hi-tech skill is required for installing ICS

Limitations of ICS

· not suitable for large families
· insufficient extra heat generated for space heating during cold season
· soot needs to be frequently removed from the chimney
· it is still possible for thatch roofs to catch fire

Some lessons learned

· In Nepal, the cooking area where the stove is located is regarded as the most sacred place. Strangers are not allowed to go near the stove. It is a sensitive issue and due respect should be given.

· Stove programmes are not a completely new thing for the Nepalese people. It takes considerable effort and time to introduce them as people will not accept them easily. Therefore, the ICS programme should be a multi-year programme.

· The ICS programme should focus more on sustainability than on meeting targets.

· Villagers more easily accept new ideas from neighbours than from outside instructors. A people-to-people earning environment needs to be created.

· Skill and technology should be transferred to the community to give continuity to the programme.

· Local people should be involved in the evaluation and impact studies on the performance of the ICS. The lessons learned in the evaluations are easily shared with neighbours. It is the best method for propagating the use of ICS.

Table 1: CARE/N Project Areas (1990 to June 1996)









Number of ICS installed









Number of persons trained