7 December, 2009Issue 10.5Asia & AustraliaPhoto Essays

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The Smokeless Stove Project

Frances Raquel Narv√°ez

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Kodaikanal, South India—The majority of homes in rural India use poorly functioning, open-fire indoor stoves. These stoves emit high concentrations of respirable particles, carbon monoxide, and black carbon, the second biggest contributor to global warming. Regular use of open-fire stoves causes an increase in air pollution levels that triggers respiratory health problems.

1.6 to 2 million people die every year from this domestic practice.

The Smokeless Stove Project aims to curtail the deadly effects of open-fire stoves. Project workers replace traditional stoves with more efficient ones, which use local, stable materials such as cement, brick, and stoneware pipe.

A smokeless stove has one chamber for fuel, typically firewood. When the stove is lit, its smoke is transferred to a second chamber and safely expelled from the house through a chimney. The measure reduces the release of respirable particles by up to 80% and limits the production of black carbon. Smokeless stoves also maximize fuel efficiency by requiring less wood than traditional stoves.

The Smokeless Stove Project has been continuously running since 2003 and has successfully installed stoves in over 600 homes.

Frances Raquel Narv√°ez read Experimental Psychology at St. Anne’s College during the 2008-2009 academic year. She then traveled to India to develop the Smokeless Stove Project. Frances is currently in Geneva working with the European Broadcasting Union.