Biomass Fuel Efficiency – Bhutan
Mud stoves traditionally used in rural Bhutan are largely inefficient, requiring women to travel long distances and spend many hours collecting fuel wood from national forests. Women and children, in particular, suffer from eye and respiratory problems caused by prolonged exposure to smoke and indoor pollution. Outdoor wood-gathering contributes to deforestation, and burning of biomass releases greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
The 14 women initially trained have in turn trained 700 other women, creating a ripple effect of empowerment
through knowledge. All these women not only encourage villagers to use efficient stoves, they also spread
Helping the planet
Use of improved cook stoves has reduced consumption of wood by 50 percent in the 1,000 households that have participated in this project. This has resulted in a net reduction of almost 7,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually. The project thus addresses the dual problems of deforestation and burning biomass emissions, which are contributing to climate change.
Women in rural Bhutan have been directly benefitted in that they spend less time collecting firewood – time which they are now able to devote to other endeavours. The project also improves women’s health, as they are exposed to less indoor pollution. Women’s lives have been made easier, as cooking time is reduced by almost one-third, kitchens remain cleaner, and food can be kept warm longer. In addition, the project has empowered women by bolstering their organizational and planning skills, increasing their position within the community.
The initial Biomass Fuel Efficiency project was replicated by the Tsirang Women Group, which has installed the improved stoves in an additional 1,500 households. The Small Grants Programme has conducted in-country study tours to share the success of the initiative with other projects, showcasing its success and enabling further growth.
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