Stoves for Myanmar
This project takes a market-based approach to introducing efficient cook stoves in a country where
they are currently unavailable. Stoves for
Myanmar involves selling imported, high-quality, efficient cook stoves to smallholder farmers
affected by climate change. The project will alleviate pressures of extracting wood from forests,
while saving rural Myanmarese farmer’s money, and leaving kitchens cleaner and
- Planned initial milestone to distribute 10,000 stoves
- This would reach 60,000 people in 50 villages
- Long-term goal of distributing stoves to 1 million families in Myanmar
Most families in Myanmar’s rural communities cook by burning wood on open fires. As a result, Myanmar
has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. Forest loss is causing climate change that is
affecting smallholder farmers. Likewise harmful fumes from cooking on open fires precipitate premature
deaths among women and children.
There are multiple barriers to large-scale distribution of efficient cook stoves in Myanmar. With most cook
stove distribution programs that have failed in the past, stoves were given away for free, leaving no
incentive to develop a supply chain and market for these products. A lack of skills and poor quality
standards is another barrier, as locally produced cook stoves tend to break easily. Local production can
also only be done on a small scale.
The Stoves for Myanmar project brings clean and efficient cook stoves to the people of Myanmar. Cook stoves
are being imported from the trusted Envirofit brand to assure quality. They will be sold under flexible
payment plans adapted to local needs and farming seasons, which addresses the finance barrier. The
distribution strategy includes a trial period and a return policy to guarantee customer satisfaction. Since
villagers will have to pay for the stoves, they will feel more empowered to use and take care of
The initiative also includes a component where carbon credits will be sold. This allows for the subsidized
distribution of the cook stove, training of local vendors, awareness-raising, and below-the-line marketing
Helping the planet
The project started as a pilot in Pyawbwe Township in the heart of Myanmar. This is a particularly
ecologically sensitive area known as the “dry zone,” which recently experienced a devastating
dry spell when rains arrived late. Arid habitats are far more sensitive to extractive pressures, and
overutilization of natural resources in such zones can lead to a vicious cycle of environmental degradation
Preventing tree-cutting here will allow the ecosystem to rejuvenate, stopping this cycle and assuring
future existence of these resources. Leaving trees standing also prevents further emission of greenhouse
gases, averting further climate change.
Another important target zone for implementation would be the delta region, where 80 per cent of mangrove
swamp has been lost due to charcoal production and wood-cutting. Cyclones have become more destructive
without these mangrove forests, which serve as wind- and wave-breakers. Halting their further loss will
also prevent environmental damage associated with heavy storms.
Using the new cook stoves will reduce respiratory diseases caused by household air pollution – which
has become the top cause of premature death in South Asia. Families will also save money and time. Energy
access is increased, while preserving the micro-climate on which smallholder farmers depend, boosts food
security. Coastal Myanmarese residents would benefit from reducing the amount of potential property damage
and loss of life caused by cyclones.
Designing the project so that it can generate income attracts private finance, including for startup
capital. Achieving market success will attract further capital, allowing the project to grow. With about 9
million rural households and a significant proportion of the urban population also relying on wood or
charcoal for cooking, there is considerable opportunity for growth. The institutional sector – with
its monasteries, schools, tea houses, and restaurants as well as street vendors – also represents a
large potential market for efficient cook stoves.
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