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close this book Boiling Point No. 33 - May 1994 Number 33
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Kerala's 'Parishad' chulha programme

by P. V. Unnikrishnan and S. Sajith, Integrated Rural Technology Centre, Mundur, Palakkad, Kerala, India, PIN 678 592.

The Kerala Integrated Rural Technology Centre (IRTC), established in 1987, is one of a number of bodies which have been engaged in stove design and dissemination for many years. Work on improved stoves has been going on in India for much longer than in other developing countries, and many new stoves have been designed, modified, developed, and promoted since the Magan chulha - still in production - was introduced in 1947. In the mid-80s the Indian Government's Department of Non-Conventional Energy Sources (DNES) started to subsidize stoves which it had tested and approved as being relatively fuel efficient.

India is a sub-continent and so NGO stove initiatives have developed on a state or local basis (although often with populations of fifty million or more) with the help of national bodies such as CORT (Consortium of Rural Technologies), and TERI (TATA Energy Research Institute).

The following extracts from IRTC's evaluation of the 'Parishad' chulhas case study indicate the high level of the development work with ceramic stoves. The chulhas are multi-pot, woodburning, chimney stoves and are installed in kitchens. Between 1985 and 1990, 148 000 were installed, mainly by KSSP, a people's science movement founded in 1962; but since then the rate of introduction has declined. The main reasons for this are the dispersal of KSSP staff to other programmes, and the shortage of working capital resulting from delays in the release of subsidies from ANERT (Agency for Non-Conventional Energy and Rural Technology). IRTC also accept that deeply ingrained cooking habits are hard to change, and that innovations are more likely to be rejected when there is existing technology to fall back on when problems arise. Families will not change their habits because of 'abstract' national concerns unless there are clear, practical benefits. Improved stove use alone can never provide a complete solution to household-fuel problems.

Future IRTC Programmes

The following recommendations from KSSP's new stove programme indicate that the stove itself was not entirely satisfactory from either the technical or the sociological point of view.

• The marketability of the stoves needs to be investigated more fully.

• Smaller models are needed for use on smaller platforms.

• Off-the-shelf models, not requiring professional installation, should be available.

• Stove pot-seats should accommodate cooking pots in common use.

• Glazed tiles and marble chimneys should be available for more affluent users.

• Cleaner burning, less smoky stoves are needed.

• Better-designed kitchens are needed to reduce smoke emissions.

• Better quality control would ensure greater durability and accuracy of the fired liners.

Better programme management and a self-sustaining dissemination method must be found, and there is need for further monitoring of stove performance, fuelwood consumption, and environmental impacts in Kerala. Methods will be devised to overcome the financial constraints limiting the involvement of voluntary organizations in the dissemination programme. Wider and deeper user awareness programmes are to be launched, and the mechanism for maintenance of the installations has to be streamlined. Local bodies will have a major input into the programme. Furthermore, a longer-term strategy for evolving a self-sustaining dissemination programme- involving no subsidy must be developed.

This summary is taken from the report 'Kerala's Parishad Chulher Programme’.