Globally, deforestation has slowed over the last 10 years, but "wood fuel accounted for about half of the removed wood," according to the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010, put out by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization earlier this year.
In 2005, wood fuel consumption represented about 73 and 90 percent of wood removals in Asia and Africa, respectively.
Another recent development in the cookstove sector aims to treat the poor more like customers than targets for charity.
Applying a market-based approach to push new stoves
According to Xander Slaski and Mark Thurber, researchers at Stanford University's Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, widespread cookstove adoption among the poor has been slow because three criteria were not met: motivation, affordability and level of engagement.
In their report, "Cookstoves and Obstacles to Technology Adoption by the Poor," published in October 2009, Slaski and Thurber explain that a key selling point of clean-burning stoves to the poor is the demonstration of their "observable benefits."
For example, in urban areas where people tend to purchase their fuel, rather than harvest it, it is often easier to sell the new cookstove on its cost-saving efficiency. "[T]he improvement of health through elimination of indoor air pollution," Slaski and Thurber write, "rarely ranks highly in the calculus of purchasers."
Slaski and Thurber also argue that a more subtle issue is at hand: aesthetics.
"A stove could be seen, for example, as contributing to a cleaner kitchen, adding new cooking functionality, or providing a status symbol associated with modernity," they wrote.
"Poor people like nice things, too," said Don Feil, president and CEO of EnterpriseWorks/VITA, an organization that, among many projects, facilitates the distribution of clean cookstoves in Ghana. With the exception of communities in extreme distress, like Darfur or Haiti after the January earthquake, Feil said, generally, "if you don't pay for it, you don't value it."
Gadgil agreed, saying the goal is not to treat the stove solely as "charity."
Reprinted from Climatewire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500