The SLOW LIFE Foundation was runner-up at the 2degrees Champions Awards 2014 category Social Value. It was recognised for the Myanmar Stoves Campaign project which provides energy efficient cookstoves for families in rural Myanmar.
Myanmar is one of the world’s least developed countries, ranking 149th out of 187 on the UNDP Human Development Index. Widespread chronic poverty is at its worst in rural areas. One of the most significant contributing factors to this is the lack of access to modern energy services among rural communities.
In Myanmar, 70% of the population lives in rural areas. There is no access to electricity. Wood is their primary source of energy. Families in rural Myanmar spend a large amount of time gathering scarce forest resources. Where none are available, households buy wood bundles from vendors. Families can spend up to 50% of their income on firewood.
Save time and money
In Thit Hla Kyin village in Pyawbwe Township, 41 families have purchased a new clean cookstove which has transformed their lives. U Than Pyay Gyi and his family are among the first customers and have been using the new stove for over six months.
Before that they were using a traditional three stand for cooking. U Than’s wife, Daw Than Than Moe, uses the new stove day and night and is benefitting from less smoke and a reduction in fuel wood use.
Previously, she explains, she had to use almost 6kg of wood per day and now she only uses 2.6kg of wood. The sharp reduction of wood use of almost 100kg per month is the equivalent weight of one grown tree.
With neighbouring forests already destroyed, she has to purchase wood for cooking. Every month she used to spend $4 for wood.
Now, she can buy the same amount once every two months saving her family $24 a year.
Fire and health risk
Cooking on open fires also exposes families to smoke-related respiratory and eye diseases. Globally, every year 4 million people die from the effects of inhaling toxic fumes – more than Aids and Malaria combined.
Daw Than Than Moe tells us about other benefits.
“I really like the stove because it is safe to use and we no longer need to be afraid of fire accidents. Moreover, I have a child and now he can help me with the cooking.”
During summer, families have to be very careful when cooking with fire as sparks are very dangerous in a village built of wood. Buildings can easily catch fire. Therefore, cooking inside the house is prohibited by the village leaders.
“During summer, starting the fire and cooking outside with the three-stone stove was a lot of work. But now, with this modern stove, we can carry it around and cook wherever we want to,” says Daw Than Than Moe.
The Myanmar Stoves Campaign is a SLOW LIFE Foundation initiative, developed by Orbis Development Partners in partnership with MercyCorps and the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry.
The goal of the Myanmar Stoves Campaign is to create a sustainable and scalable market for fuel-efficient cookstoves in order to help families save time and money, decrease exposure to harmful smoke and toxins, provide income and entrepreneurial opportunities, as well as to contribute to a reduction in pressure on natural forests.
The campaign was endorsed by the Myanmar Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry in January this year. It is the first Gold Standard carbon credit project registered in Myanmar.
In just six months 51 local vendors, including 14 women, have been trained and have distributed over 2,200 stoves. Families are benefiting from less smoke, less wood consumption and lower household spend on cooking fuel.
The annual 2degrees Champions Award 2014 ceremony was hosted at Wembley Stadium and was attended by 400 people. There were a total of 240 entries, a massive 140% increase from last year, and 7,473 votes were cast to decide the final 14 winners. Carbon Solutions Global won the Social Value category.
Re-posted from www.slowlifesymposium.com
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