In Nepal, we currently work in the communities of Agara and Banepa. In contrast to the steady growth of our work in Uganda, the story of the Cookstove Project in Nepal involves two very distinct phases divided by the quake that devastated large areas of the nation in April 2015. Thousands of Nepalese died and millions more were displaced. The 130,000 homes that were destroyed included many that had received new cook stoves in the previous year.
Unlike Uganda, where clay is readily available, the cookstoves constructed in Nepal are built with bricks, steel piping and mortar. The families make a monetary contribution of around $4.00 or they provide the bricks needed. With their new, efficient stoves, they can reduce their total fuel costs by 50%, so this small investment makes economic sense in addition to the health benefits.
The participation of the beneficiaries in partnership with the stove master is crucial for sustainability and ownership. The women are shown during the construction process how to clean out the chimneys and repair any small cracks in the outside of the stove. There is an evaluation and follow-up system in place so that the women are supported in their use of their new stoves.
CSP was able to make a modest contribution to the relief efforts by installing “rocket stoves,” simpler, smaller versions of the cook stove, for displaced families who were living in semi-permanent houses.
After a period of recovery and assessment, CSP started constructing stoves again two months later. From June 2015 the project was implemented in three municipalities and within a year, installed around 550 cook stoves, directly benefitting about 2450 family members.
The approach in Nepal is similar to our work in Uganda but cultural differences require the employment of “social mobilizers” in each community, usually women, who can help to explain the project to their neighbors.
Our full time social mobilizer coordinates with local government officials; organizes meetings with local leaders, groups and community members; explains the detrimental effect of indoor air pollution and advantages of clean cook stoves; advises the beneficiaries on the proper use of the cook stoves; works closely with the social mobilizers of the individual villages; and gathers new requests for clean cook stoves.