About 3 billion people around the world inefficiently cook and heat their homes with open fires or stoves that leak pollutants as they burn wood, charcoal or other biomass. These methods produce high levels of harmful indoor air pollution, prematurely killing over 4 million people per year, and disproportionately impacting women and children who spend the most time near the domestic hearth. In response, the Jabez FBVC Foundation in Kenya launched the Bamboo Clean Cook Stove initiative in 2011 to create a safe, low-cost and sustainable cooking system that is accessible to those living below $2 per day. The initiative aims to reduce indoor air pollution to protect public health and the environment.
Bamboo Clean Cook Stoves seeks to shift consumption away from traditional biofuels, such as such as charcoal and firewood, to bamboo. Their stove uses bamboo briquettes, a more sustainable and inexpensive fuel, and is designed to effectively retain heat. These two elements result in a 60% reduction of fuel consumption, a 70% decrease in smoke and soot emissions, and a 50% reduction of cooking time. The stove also eliminates respiratory health problems and eye irritations caused by smoke exposure while cooking. To ensure it is affordable, the stove is constructed of inexpensive materials and has a projected lifespan of over 10 years.
According to Benson Alakonya Keya, the Director of Communication and Policy Strategy at the Jabez Foundation, the main challenges facing the initiative included acquiring capital, commercializing the product, and obtaining the necessary certificates and patents. The Foundation already has plans to extend the initiative to other regions, and is currently conducting pilot programs in preparation.
Case study written by Isabelle Rui, based on an interview with Benson Alakonya Keya, Director of Communication and Policy Strategy at the Jabez FBVC Foundation and on research shared by Friederike Eichhorn and Sander Chan at the German Development Institute (DIE).
Image: Clean Cookstoves, by The World Bank.