A significant proportion of the world's population uses solid fuels – for example, wood, charcoal, dung, or coal – as their main source of energy to cook. Traditional cooking methods using these fuels, in rudimentary open fire cookstoves, are inefficient, unhealthy, and harmful to the environment.
At the household level, the combustion of solid fuels produces harmful smoke which is a leading cause of many respiratory and heart conditions worldwide. Using these fuels also requires extensive time and costs for fuel production and collection.
On a global scale, the smoke produced using open fire cookstoves releases large amounts of black smoke and other greenhouse gases (GHG). As an added strain to the environment when trees are cut, entire ecosystems are threatened, and biodiversity is reduced. Having fewer trees also means it will take longer to sequester the carbon in our atmosphere.
The recent outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) highlights the relation between traditional cooking, gender, health, and the environment. Exposure to HAP is a known risk factor for underlying chronic diseases that are predictive of the severity of COVID-19 patients.
Luckily, many of these negative impacts can be mitigated through the adoption of improved cook stoves (ICS).
Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) can be designed and built in various ways, depending on local needs and conditions. At their most basics, ICS include an enclosure for the fire to reduce the loss of heat and protect it against the wind. Evidence shows that ICS can have a positive impact on a wide range of environmental and social outcomes.
Benefits of Improved Cookstoves
Adopting this technology reduces the use of firewood, lowers carbon emissions, and expels the toxic fumes outside the users’ homes. This decreases household air pollution (HAP) dramatically. HAP is a leading cause of many heart and lung diseases in rural communities.
An improved cookstove has multiple impacts the same day it is installed and reduces missions as soon as it is put to use, unlike alternative projects which generate impacts that are hard to quantify and take time to validate.
After switching to an ICS, women need less time for collecting firewood and preparing food and therefore have more time to assist the family in income-generating activities. This also allows younger girls to have more time to study.
The Gold Standard recently conducted a study demonstrating that ICS projects´impacts are measured more accurately and achieve maximum social, economic and environmental impacts. Research showed that ICS contribute $ 1.8 billion per year in environmental and social benefits worldwide.
Qori Q’oncha is a pioneer project established in Peru more than a decade ago to value the impact of improved cookstoves on the voluntary carbon market. Local families participate throughout the project to understand the technology used, providing some local materials and, when possible, by helping to build the improved cookstove with the help of an expert and maintaining it over time. Thanks to these sustainability measures, the Qori Q’oncha program will continue to have a lasting impact on many rural communities.
- Making an Impact since: 2008
- Technology: Improved Cookstoves
- Community members benefited to date: 601,325
- Emissions avoided since the beginning of the programme: 1,929, 039 tCO2e
- Trees saved to date: 145,158,834
Learn more about Qori Q’oncha in Peru:
After identifying a similar need for improved cookstoves in communities from Mexico and Central America, we decide to expand our area of intervention to include these communities. Thus, in 2012, Utsil Naj was created. A complete understanding of the local context of cooking—including users’ cooking experience and their physical cooking environment — was key to develop a sustainable solution in each of the different countries where we are present.
- Making an Impact since: 2012
- Technology: Improved Cookstoves
- Community members benefited to date: 110,125
- Emissions avoided since the beginning of the programme: 209,681 tCO2e
- Trees saved to date: 10,947,168
Learn more about Utsil Naj in each of the project’s three locations:
Microsol works under the Gold Standard, one of the most rigorous and recognized certification standards worldwide, which also monitors the social and economic benefits produced by our project. These positive impacts on the communities are carefully reported and validated to ensure the project´s contributions.
Impact on Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals, or Global Goals, are defined by the United Nations as a collection of 17 interlinked goals designed to be a "blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all".
Improved Cookstove projects are crucial for achieving these Goals because they provide a multitude of social and economic benefits that go beyond lowering carbon emissions. After paying close attention to the follow-up and measurement of these results, we can proudly say our programmes are certified as a contributor to 7 of 17 Global Goals.
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