Adopt a stove now!

The problem

Over 3 Billion people in our world depend on biomasses such as wood, dung, agricultural residues, as their energy sources. Cooking on open fires or traditional stoves burns these biomasses inefficiently and results in the release of high levels of smoke inside houses.
These houses are often primitive, lack ventilation and do not have a chimney (let alone a receiving hood). Indoor smoke contains all kinds of pollutants that are health-damaging, such as small particles and carbon monoxide. Sometimes the amount of pollution levels is 20 times higher than the accepted guidelines. The United Nation’s World Health Organisation (WHO) refers to this tragic phenomena as Indoor Air Pollution. 1.6 million people die every year because of IAP and in some countries IAP account for 5% of the sick and dying people. The dirty indoor smoke affects mostly women and children. Women in developing countries spend on average three to seven hours per day cooking above these unhealthy fires, most often with their children around.

India count 1.1Billion people, with the largest proportion still living in the rural areas cooking in these unhealthy circumstances. Naturally, the women are hampered by the smoke, but they have grown used to it as their mothers and grandmothers lived in the same conditions. However, most aren’t aware of the serious negative effects in the long run. Besides the severity of the health problems associated with the smoke, the families are also required to collect wood, which often takes up most of the children’s day. A cleaner and more efficient manner of cooking would save substantial amounts of fuel (biomass) and reduce the time spend on collecting wood. As a result, the women could spend their precious time on other activities important for their development and it would allow the children to attend school more hours every day.

The low-smoke stove (Chula)

With the problem above as the starting point, Philips Design India started in 2005 with the creation of a ‘smokeless stove’, which they named ‘the Chula’. The project is part of the ‘Philanthropy by Design’ project from Philips Design, which seeks to stimulate people’s personal abilities to seek for solutions by sharing knowledge and creativity to enable co-creations. The goal was to find a suitable solution tailored to the local needs.

The solution was ‘the Chula’! The Chula is a small stove with a chimney which was developed in co-creation with a local Indian NGO and potential users in rural India. The stove is easy to use, looks similar to the local designs of the traditional stoves, can be produced locally and is relatively cheap. Naturally, the most important improvement the Chula brings about is the reduction in the amounts of indoor smoke, thereby reducing the burden that is pushing upon the local women and children every day. The innovative design makes cooking local dishes more time-efficient. Also, the amount of smoke-production is drastically decreased and the smoke that is present is simply guided outside by the chimney.

May 21, 2009: Website is online!