|Nepal Improved Stove by Simon de Trey White WWF-UK|
I mention these various definitions of improved stoves because of a very interesting recently released WHO and UNDP report on The Energy Access Situation in Developing Countries. So how does this report distinguish itself from the many other documents on energy access? It does so by reviewing actual household surveys for about 140 countries to quantify various aspects of household energy. This new report takes on the monumental task of assembling statistics based on WHO sponsored World Health Surveys, the USAID-sponsored Demographic and Health Surveys, and the UNICEF-sponsored Multiple Indicators Cluster Surveys as well as other international studies such as the World Bank Living Standards Studies.
Questions on stove characteristics were available for only 67 of the 140 developing countries in the study, but this smaller group of surveys does cover over 90 percent of the developing country population. The standard questions included questions on the cooking stove. For this study the improved stove was defined as “closed stoves with chimney, as well as open stoves or fires with chimney or hood, but excludes open stoves or fire with no chimney or hood.” It is likely that these types of improved stoves were either built locally or were installed with manufactured parts such as grills, grates, or even fireboxes. Also, improved charcoal stoves generally have no chimney or hood, so they would not be counted under this definition.
|No. of Improved Stoves: Source WHO/UNDP 2009|
The new generations improved stoves that are being manufactured in factories to improve the quality of the stoves have a long way to go to catch up to the use of the locally produced stoves. However, most of these new generation stove producers have been in business for only the last 5 years. According the manufacturers numbers, there have been approximately one-half million of these stoves sold to date, with programs in India, South Africa, Uganda, Honduras, and Guatemala among others. Many of these stoves do not have chimneys, so they would not be classified as improved according the admittedly limited questions on stoves in most international surveys.
Consumers presumably consider the simple fact of removing smoke from the house as of considerable value. This also stresses the potential for these marketing these stoves as a alternative to the use of open fires or “traditional” stoves. With a little more advance in technical designs they may even compete with the use liquid fuels or gas for cooking. Consider that in 2005 India has approximately 16 million improved stoves. This is just less than half that was disseminated under its legacy improved stove program that ended in 2002, so perhaps there were some positives in that India's much maligned program after all. There will be more on this in later blog.
So is the glass half empty or half full? The half empty crowd would say that these stoves only remove smoke from the household (moving it a few meters) and over two-thirds of them are in China leaving the rest of the world with a measly 50 million stoves. The half full optimists would say that some of these stoves not only remove smoke but are more energy efficient and this is an indication that a quite large number of households in developing countries are ready for new ways of cooking.
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