In the days of coronavirus, our home has become the only safe place where humans can take refuge. But not everyone in the world has a safe home. After many years of experience making seismic-resistant homes in rural Nepal, Awasuka has found that there is a much more serious problem: the smoke in the kitchens, also known as the “silent killer”. Household air pollution (HAP) causes noncommunicable diseases including stroke, ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. These lung diseases may increase the transmission and severity of viral infections as coronavirus.
While the earthquake killed 9,000 people in 2015, toxic fumes from kitchens prematurely kill 24,000 people each year. Especially women and children (WHO 2019). That is why Awasuka has focused its priority on the installation of kitchens with chimneys, as an optimal solution to eradicate smoke from kitchens.
During 2019, Awasuka and Practical Action collaborated in the installation of 333 chimneys in Makawanpur District. In 2020, Awasuka is collaborating with El Camí de la Solidaritat to install 500 more chimneys and to be able to scale the project to more areas of Nepal. Smoke eradication in kitchens contributes to three UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals):
SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being. Exposure to HAP is a leading risk factor for diseases such as: childhood pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, ischemic heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. It is also related to increased risk for stillbirth, low birthweight and decreased lung function in newborns.
SDG 5 – Gender Equality. A reduction in time spent collecting firewood and cooking enables women to spend more time with their children and to enhance their economic or educational opportunities.
SDG 13 – Climate Action. Short-lived climate pollutants such as black carbon and methane (CH4), as well as other greenhouse gases such as carbon monoxide (CO) and carbon dioxide (CO2), are emitted due to the incomplete combustion of kerosene and solid fuels, which occurs while cooking on open fires or with inefficient stoves. Improved cooking stoves can reduce fuel use by 40-60%, resulting in fewer greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions.
The total price of a kitchen with chimney (including materials, manufacture and installation) is 100 Euros. Families pay 10% of this total amount and also collaborate in its construction: they collect the necessary materials for the improved cooking-stove (stones, water and clay) and transport the metal sheets from the closest motorable road to their homes.
The installed model was designed by Practical Action 10 years ago, in collaboration with Bosch-Siemens and some European universities. They were later tested and refined in the field and finally Awasuka introduced some additional improvements. Each smokeless kitchen includes:
Chimney (metal) which comes out through the roof and, thanks to its design, prevents water from entering from the outside.
Hood (metal), which conducts the smoke by convection to the vertical duct;
Improved cooking-stove (stone and mud), with 1,2 or 3 hotplates and a design that improves combustion, contributing to 40% firewood saving;
The operation of this set is highly optimized: more than 90% of the indoor smoke is expelled to the outside, creating a clean and healthy environment inside, where mothers and children can cook without suffering the effects of the smoke in their health. The reasons for choosing this type of cuisine for remote rural areas are as follows:
Acceptance of 100% of the beneficiaries. It adapts perfectly to their culture and prevents them from toxic gases.
Save 40% of time during firewood harvesting (due to the firewood saving of the improved cooking-stove), which women can use in business or for study.
Education of household head by gender 1
Lack of fuel alternatives. Electric stoves are not possible as only 17% of Nepal’s population has access to TIER 5 type electrification (needed for cooking) and in addition, in remote areas the supply is very unstable.
Distribution of primary stoves (urban-rural) 1
Biogas is not widespread because it is difficult to implement, as maintenance is very difficult in remote areas. Gas cylinders are expensive and difficult to transport, as the nearest motorable road can be more than 3 hours walking distance. That is why firewood is the only biomass alternative in these areas. But the problem arises with the lack of ventilation, which is solved with the chimney.
LEFT: Fuel penetration rate: share of households using a type of fuel (nationwide) – RIGHT: Ventilation structure and cooking location 1
1Nepal beyond Connections – Energy Access Diagnostic Report 2019, MTF, World Bank, ESMAP, SRED.
Smokeless Kitchens, with Practical Action
Smokeless Kitchens Installation, Hareram 20”
Smokeless Kitchens Installation, Hareram 10”
Smokeless Kitchens Installed
Installed during 2019 in the rural municipality of Bhimphedi.