The Clean Cookstove is a big deal because almost half of the world’s population stands to have their lives change appreciably in our generation.
Right now, more than three billion people use primitive stoves or open fires to cook or heat their homes. And according to Dr. Maria Neira, head of public health and the environment for the World Health Organisation (WHO), “We have 3.7 million people dying a year from outdoor air pollution, and 4.3 million from household pollution. Almost half the world is still cooking like in the stone age.”
Within one generation, we could effectively raise the standard of living from primitive cooking to efficient and safe methods for 4.3 million people.
The Himalayan Stove Project
And elite group of international mountaineers composes the Advisory Board of the Himalayan Stove Project, that understands the environment of Nepal and its remote cultures. The project was founded by George Basch, who has now shipped 4,000 stoves to Nepal’s impoverished rural communities, improving the lives of more than 30,000 people. Basch himself is an adventurer, explorer, photographer, and entrepreneur. Born in Vienna and escaping the calamity of WWII, he grew up in Chicago and graduated from MIT with a history of success in various undertakings.
The Himalayan Stove Project was founded in 2010, the same year Basch was inducted into the Explorers Club. He was exposed to this important cause first in 2001 when he spent a month at Everest Base Camp working as support for blind climber Erik Weihenmayer’s successful summit. During his stay, he was alarmed to discover that the standard method for cooking and heating homes was open fires inside the household. The result was lung-searing smoke that filled every room and affected every family member. From that moment on, he searched for a solution, returning in 2009 and finally delivering the first big shipment of stoves in 2011
To underscore George Basch’s dedication to this cause, it is worthy to note that the Himalayan Stove Project was founded to memorialize George’s son Paul, who passed away in 1998. It was with his son that George hiked, trekked, and climbed with, and the cause is one that would have been meaningful to Paul.
The Clean Cookstove
The stove that Himalayan Stove Project selected is the G3300 Clean Cookstove and a 2 Pot Accessory Kit by Envirofit, and chimneys produced locally in Nepal. This particular model revolutionized the biomass cooking stove industry by improving on efficiency, safety, and longevity all while using easy to source and affordable burning materials such as sticks or lumber. The 2 Pot Accessory makes it possible to cook larger meals and keep water hot, and the chimney makes it possible to vent smoke away from the user and out of the household.
The G3300 Clean Cookstove is currently the best and fastest biomass cooking solution on the market. Its design reduced smoke and harmful gasses up to 90%, reduced fuel consumption 75%, and actually reduced cooking time by 50%; able to boil 1L of water in just 5 minutes. In addition, unlike a fireplace, the stove can be moved; it weighs only 11lbs 6oz (5.2kg) and measures 11x10x11in (29x26x28cm).
The Clean Cookstove is built to last with easy to source materials. The combustion chamber is produced out of metal alloy with recessed grips and it has ceramic features on the inside to distribute heat and create ventilation. It has generous insulation to keep heat in and prevent heat buildup on the outside away from the top opening, and a metal grate for inserting wood as it burns.
With the Double Pot Attachment, the stove is able to produce twice as much and vent effectively all of the exhausted gasses. Weighing only an additional 5lbs (2.3kg), and 27.5x10x18.5in (70x26x47cm) in size, the semi-knock down design of this component provides an efficient way to double the cooking surface. In addition, as small pieces of wood are used to “keep the stove on,” the stovetop can keep water or food warm. And, of course most importantly, the Double Pot Attachment is a closed system that diverts effectively all emissions produced by the burning of fuel into the chimney. Once the stove is connected to this attachment, smoke and other gasses are routed outdoors away from the family.
But, there’s an even more surprising positive result: locally producing chimneys to fit the Clean Cookstove creates jobs and invests in the community. These final components are made in Kathmandu in a small workshop that has a functioning system to make sure the full setup fits every home. The result is not just work that can be paid for, or go towards earning a stove, but participation of the people of Nepal. This contributes to acceptance of the stoves as a permanent fixture of the household.
It is a brilliant, simple, affordable, and familiar design; but the road to distribution is not without speed bumps. For example, the Himalayan Stove Project discovered that recipients responded much better to integrating the stove when they felt that they had a stake. So, working with the groups of recipients, the stoves are “purchased” at a price determined by these communities and the money fully stays in the community. Prices aren’t negligible at 500 to 1,500 Rupees – $5 to $15; which can be a substantial amount in these areas, but recipients can also make a donation of work or community service.
New Clean Cookstove Institutional Models
Recognizing the need for larger capacity stoves, Envirofit developed two new models for the Himalayan Stove Project: the HM-5000 Griddle Top and the EFI-100Liter Institutional Stove. These two designs are much larger to cook food for very large groups: schools, orphanages, monasteries and convents, community centers, tea houses and restaurants. The Griddle Top is the world’s fastest most fuel-efficient biomass Cookstove, and the Institutional Stove is Envirofit’s largest model. Both use the same technology for venting dangerous emissions, and significantly improve efficiency when cooking.
Climb To The Summit Of Everest
If you stack 10,856 stoves one on top of the other, they will reach from Mount Everest Base Camp all the way to the summit — and this is exactly what the Himalayan Stove Project is doing, they are targeting that specific number as their next goal to distribute in Nepal and you can help in a number of ways.
Starting October 1 through November 29, on #GivingTuesday any donation made to the Himalayan Stove Project will be matched by the Himalayan Stove Project’s supporting sponsors, including adidas Outdoor, Kahtoola, Clothing Arts, MSR/Cascade Designs, Sea to Summit and others. Also, whenever you purchase anything at Amazon.com by clicking the portal link on the Himalayan Stove Project homepage to “Amazon Smile”, Amazon will make a donation. And, of course, you can visit the Himalayan Stove Project website where any amount is accepted and each $150 guarantees that a stove will be delivered to a family that needs it.
For his hard work and success with this incredible cause, George Basch and the Himalayan Stove Project are in the running for the Citation of Merit from The Explorers Club, and they will be receiving the eChievement Award by eTown in Boulder, Colorado.