Cookstoves are an innovative solution that can bring positive changes in the lives of millions of people worldwide. Improved cookstoves are a vital intervention to reduce indoor air pollution and improve the health and well-being of people in the global south. Improved cookstoves burn fuels more efficiently and emit less smoke, reducing indoor air pollution and improving health outcomes. According to the estimates, traditional stoves and fuels result in indoor air pollution levels up to 100 times higher than World Health Organization guidelines, which leads to respiratory diseases and other health problems.

Benefits of reduced firewood use through cookstoves

  • Conservation of Forests and Trees– Using firewood as a primary fuel source has led to severe deforestation and loss of trees in many parts of the world. By reducing the firewood needed for cooking, cookstoves can play a crucial role in conserving forests and trees. It helps preserve the natural beauty of the environment but also helps combat climate change as trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
  • Improved Health– The smoke produced by traditional stoves can be highly harmful to health, particularly for women and children who spend much time near the stove. Using cookstoves can reduce the amount of smoke produced, thus improving indoor air quality and reducing health risks.
  • Saves Time and Energy– Cookstoves can be more energy efficient than traditional stoves. It requires less firewood to cook the same amount of food, which helps families by saving time that would otherwise be spent collecting firewood. It can be especially beneficial for women who often have to collect firewood, leaving them with less time for other activities.
  • Increased Income and Productivity– By reducing the time and energy spent collecting firewood, cookstoves can free up time for other activities such as working, studying, or caring for the family. It can lead to increased income and productivity for families and communities.
  • Better Cooking Experience– Cookstove is easy to use and maintain. They often have features such as adjustable flames and pot supports, making cooking more accessible and enjoyable. It can lead to improved cooking experiences and better-quality food for families.

The Impact of Improved Cookstoves:

Improved cookstoves come in various designs, including those that run on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), ethanol, and even solar energy. The increased availability of these stoves, along with education and outreach programs, has made it possible for more and more households to adopt them. Governments, NGOs, and private sector organizations are working to increase the availability and affordability of improved cookstoves, making them accessible to households in even the most remote areas.
The benefits of using improved cookstoves extend beyond just environmental impact. A few are listed below:

Environmental Benefits:

  • Reduced greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change mitigation.
  • Reduced deforestation and land degradation by decreasing the need for firewood and charcoal.
  • Preserved biodiversity by reducing the demand for wood fuel.
  • Reduced indoor and outdoor air pollution improves the quality of life and the environment.

Health Benefits:

  • Reduced indoor smoke and pollutants exposure reduces the risk of respiratory diseases, lung cancer, and other health problems.
  • Improved indoor air quality reduces the risk of eye irritation and other health problems.
  • Reduced risk of burns and injuries from open fires and traditional stoves.

Economic Benefits:

  • Reduced fuel costs are efficient as it helps in improving household incomes.
  • Increased productivity, as efficient stoves require less time and effort to prepare meals, allowing more time for income-generating activities.
  • Job creation in the local stove production and distribution sector.
  • Reduced medical expenses associated with health problems caused by indoor smoke and pollutants.

Social Benefits:

  • Improved gender equality by reducing the time and effort required for fuel collection and cooking, providing more significant opportunities for education and economic empowerment for women and girls.
  • Enhanced social status and dignity for households, as efficient stoves are considered modern and efficient technology.
  • Improved education outcomes for children, as they can spend more time studying and less on fuel collection and cooking.
  • Improved food security and nutrition by making cooking more affordable and accessible.

The Relevance of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to Cookstoves:

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are highly relevant to cookstoves, as cooking is a fundamental human need, and the traditional methods used by many households in developing countries can significantly negatively impact health, the environment, and socioeconomic development. Here are some points highlighting the relevance of SDGs to cookstoves:

SDG 2: Zero Hunger – More efficient cookstoves can help address hunger by reducing the fuel required to cook food, making it more affordable and accessible for low-income households.

SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being – Traditional cooking methods, such as open fires, can have severe adverse health impacts due to releasing harmful smoke and pollutants. Efficient cookstoves with proper ventilation can significantly reduce these risks and improve health outcomes.

SDG 5: Gender Equality – In many developing countries, women and girls are responsible for collecting fuel and cooking. Using efficient cookstoves can reduce the time and effort required for these tasks, providing more significant opportunities for education and economic empowerment.

SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy – Efficient cookstoves can help address the challenge of access to clean energy, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and improving energy security.

SDG 13: Climate Action – Traditional cooking methods contribute to deforestation and release significant amounts of greenhouse gases. Efficient cookstoves can help reduce emissions and support climate action.

SDG 15: Life on Land – Traditional cooking methods can contribute to deforestation and land degradation. Efficient cookstoves can reduce these impacts and support sustainable land use practices.

Listed below are some of the approaches implemented by VNV Advisory towards a sustainable cooking solution:

  • VCS2357: Improved Cookstove Market Development in Rural Nepal
  • VCS2303: Energy-Efficient Cooking Solution for Low-Emission Development in Nepal
  • GS11308: Healthy Cooking Initiative for Tea Estate Workers of Nepal
  • GS11488: Improved Cooking Stoves in Bangladesh
  • GS6597: Promoting Clean Cooking Solutions for Disadvantaged Households in Nepal

 In conclusion, cookstoves are an eco-friendly solution that provides sustainable cooking options, reduces fuel consumption and emissions, and supports local communities and economies. Reducing fuel consumption and harmful pollutants helps to protect the environment, improve health, and save households money. From the conservation of forests and trees to improved health and increased income, the use of cookstoves can bring positive changes to the lives of millions of people worldwide. With continued efforts to increase access and affordability, improved cookstoves have the potential to make a real difference in the lives of people around the world.

If you want to make a difference in the world, consider supporting cookstove initiatives and help spread the word about the many benefits of reduced firewood use. Contact us at to contribute to a more sustainable future by promoting cookstoves.