National Cookstove Programs

RON LARSON to AD Karve on Indian national cookstove program: I wonder if you agree that certain aspects of a national stove program could still be important in other countries (as I don't believe it wise to take this particular stove program failure to be the last word). These aspects come to mind:

1. Continuing and serious program evaluation is necessary (maybe by an outside group)? In India it appears there may have been no such evaluation for 17 years?

2. Some testing is probably appropriate - emissions, efficiency, epidemiological results?

3. Subsidies for initial education and promotion of products that have merit - but may be too little known?

4. Stay away from free or heavily subsidized units? (or are there cases when a limited and early-phased-out subsidy is appropriate)

5, Any other appropriate national roles?

AD Karve: Indian Cookstove Program

National Programme on Improved Cookstoves in India was started by the Government of India in 1984. World Bank conducted a survey in 2001 and came to the conclusion that it was failure and recommended that it be terminated. The only success reported in the World Bank Report was the implementation of this programme in some pockets of Maharashtra, where rural artisans trained by ARTI conducted this activity as a commercial activity.

In its survey the World Bank found that the failure of the programme was mainly due to the fact that it was conducted as a target oriented welfare activity, in which the welfare part was ignored and the fulfillment of target was given greater importance. Therefore, in many cases, no improved cookstoves were found in households that were listed by the authorities as having been beneficiaries of this programme. In many cases, the beneficiaries received a portable metallic cookstove, which was fabricated in a central factory and was very easy to distribute. This device was generally kept in the attic and used only occasionally as an additional cooking device. In many cases, the beneficiaries did not get the model (e.g. single pot, without chimney) that they wanted and were forced to accept the more costly two pot model with chimney. As one does not always have two pots simultaneously on the stove, heat from the second pot hole was wasted whenever only one pot was being used. The most damning part of the report was that there was no repeat buying, because the users were not satisfied with the original model received by them.

In the case of the Cookstove programme in Maharashtra state, ARTI acted as the Technical Backup Support Unit of the programme. We trained the artisans, conducted orientation programmes for the government officials involved in the programme, developed cookstoves, conducted efficiency and pollution tests of all the models, conducted test marketing by installing these models in the houses of the beneficiaries and got their feedback, conducted user training programmes, produced publicity material, etc. We used to conduct users' training programmes in about 200 plus villages every year. The villagers would be shown all the models that were approved under the programme, they were told that they had the freedom to select the model, they were also taught how to take care of each model, how to use the fuel, and how much money they have to deposit with the implementing agency in order to get their cookstove. But our efforts were totally in vain, because the programme was implemented by government bureaucrats, for whom this programme had a very low priority. The money for the subsidy came from New Delhi to the Government in Mumbai, but its payment depended upon the progress reports submitted by the Government of Maharashtra to the Central Government. Under this programme, Maharashtra was to install annually about 150,000 improved cookstoves every year.Our financial year ends on 31st March. The State Government would wake up on the 1st of March and insist on the target being fulfilled before 31st of March. The mud cookstoves, which are what the housewives actually wanted, have to be manually cast with the help of a mold, into the kitchen of the beneficiary. But because one potter can at the most install 5 cookstoves in a day, the work used to be very slow. Therefore, in order to complete the target before 31st of March, the bureaucrats just purchased mass produced, portable metallic cookstoves and distributed them, irrespective of the wishes of the people. There was only a single authorised manufacturer of this category of cookstoves. One can easily envisage that he could quote any price he wanted to, and from this inflated price, he could give a cut to the concerned bureaucrats.

Not catering to the wishes of the people was the main reason of the failure of this programme.

The National Programme on Improved Cookstoves, a subsidy driven welfare activity of the government of India was terminated with effect from the year 2002, because it turned out to be a failure.

We just completed a two-day workshop held jointly by ARTI, Government of Maharashtra, Government of India, The World Bank and the Shell Foundation, to chalk out strategies to promote improved biomass based fuels and improved cooking devices through commercialisation mode. A programme, acceptable to all the stake-holders has been chalked out and Shell Foundation has agreed to fund it for the next three years. No direct subsidy would be given either to the improved fuels nor to any of the cooking devices, but money would be made available for propaganda, users' training, manufacturers' training, market research, market development and promotion. We hope that the programme would succeed this time, and if it succeeds in Maharashtra State, it would be duplicated in other states of the country.

A.D.Karve Appropriate Rural Technology Insitute (ARTI) Pune, India.

TB Reed. This is an object lesson to all stovers who want to reach a billion stoves.

1) Don't jump into mass production until you have 100 satisfied customers.

2) Sounds to me like the 2 pot stove would have been acceptable if they had supplied a lid for the second hole (and first while firing up). My wood/coal cooking range in 1955 had lots of lids and concentric rings to fit larger and smaller pots.

AD Karve: It is ARTI, which is guilty of developing the two-pot stove. In the case of the two-pot stove, the flames and flue gases are directed from the first pothole to the second and from there to the chimney. Pots sit flush on the potholes. We get about 60% of the energy at the first pothole and about 40% at the second. We provided this stove both with a lid for the second pot hole and reducer rings to accommodate pots of smaller size, but if the second pothole is not used and is kept closed with a lid, you lose about 40% of the energy, that goes unused through the chimney. In contrast to this, in a single pot stove, you don't lose any energy, because the stove remains unlit if you don't want to put a pot on it. Our single pot stove comes without a chimney. It is extremely popular with housewives, because cleaning the chimney every two months is a big bother. In most cases, nobody bothers to clean the chimney and a cookstove with a choked chimney is worse than a traditional stove. Also the chimney costs almost as much as the stove. Forcing housewives to have a stove with a chimney was a major reason for rejection of the improved cookstoves in India. I have seen that in many houses, because of the resistance on the part of the householders to allow the puncturing of the ceiling of the house, the chimney was allowed to open within the kitchen itself. In this case, the chimney served only to create a nice draft but not as a means of removing pollutants from the kitchen atmosphere.

D. Still:

3.) Learn as you go. Do follow up studies from day one. Check on user satisfaction and improve the stove(s). I'll bet that at least 4 different models would be required to satisfy differing cooking requirements and cooks. Get women involved in decision making.

4.) Education is essential. Folks need to be trained in stove use, wood drying, maintenance, etc. User groups of women, perhaps selling replacement parts as a self subsidy, could visit households with new stoves every three months for the first year. Stoves are used by women, if women help to design, disseminate, improve and fix them then acceptance is more likely.


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