Clean and efficient

The National Improved Cooking Stove (ICS) Programme jointly being run by the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre/MoST and the Alternative Energy Promotion Centre/Danida in the mid hills of Nepal since 1999 has been a huge success in Makawanpur district. The improved stoves consume fewer firesticks and emit less smoke compared to the traditional stoves in common use in rural Nepal. The programme was started in Makawanpur after locals started clearing swathes of local forests to meet their energy needs. Since the start of one house one ICS programme in 2002, 4,906 ICS have been built in Heutada municipality and 33 surrounding VDCs of Makawanpur district.

The stoves come relatively cheap, a one time investment of Rs 700 in raw materials and

Rs 400-600 in service costs. But the returns are huge. The households with ICS are by and large free of smoke-induced diseases like bronchitis,

asthma and heart and eye diseases, all common among women who take up cooking responsibilities. As many young mothers cook with their young ones in tow, the smoke also harms the kids. Healthy, cheap, fast and environmentally friendly, programmes like this should be started across the length and breadth of Nepal. It is incumbent upon the society to look after the health of women who put themselves in harm’s way to get the food on the table at the end of a long day.