We recently attended the 6th Edition of the Research Week for Development hosted by the Institut Français in Laos at the Francophone Institute for Tropical Medicine in Vientiane Capital. The focus of the event this year was on public health challenges in Laos looking at contributions from research and regional perspectives. The event was aimed at showcasing and engaging Lao youth in health-related complications to eventually inspire them in careers and training in public health.
SNV is piloting clean cooking solutions to address the challenge of indoor air pollution. Gasifier cookstoves reduce emissions substantially when compared to open fire or basic cookstoves. There are a variety of models already in the global market such as the African Clean Energy, Philips, Eco Energy and Mimi Moto stoves. We are looking at novel ways to have these stoves enter the Lao market and create a locally made gasifier as an add-on to the improved cookstoves widely disseminated under the Improved Cookstoves Programme.
During this event SNV showcased a variety of gasifier stoves from across the world as well as a locally made stove modelled according to Lao cooking needs. Many participants expressed interest in the gasifier stove. Students were mainly interested in how gasifier stoves work and asked for explanations on the science behind them. We received feedback from many participants and students who are interested in the further design of the gasifier and in using them at home.
Indoor air pollution is among the leading risk factors for diseases resulting from the use of inefficient cookstoves. No less than 4.3 million people globally die each year from the exposure to household air pollution. The most affected are women and children. There is a clear relationship between smoke emitted from inefficient cooking practices and child pneumonia and other diseases. In Laos for instance, over 6,000 people die every year from diseases associated with smoke from cooking. With these numbers increasing each year, it is crucial to find solutions that help to overcome this dreadful health hazard.
In addition to reducing smoke, gasifiers can save fuel consumption and money for households. Gasifiers turn wood into wood-gas that has a clean way of burning. Compared to traditional stoves, gasifiers reduce carbon monoxide emissions by 45% and PM 2.5 levels by 82%, and use 40% less fuel compared to traditional stoves. They also have the added benefit of creating charcoal that households can use toward cooking, further saving household income or even as soil enhancer.
“Over the last year we have seen amazing successes with the blue labelled improved cookstoves for charcoal and wood. These stoves have already been sold 120,000 times over the last few years under programmes supported by many development partners, and operates in close cooperation governmental partners like the LWU and Ministry of Science and Technology," said Bastiaan Teune, Energy Sector leader at SNV Laos during the event. As a cookstoves community, we increasingly look into clean ways of cooking. We are now working on the supply and demand for gasifiers so we can achieve many of the Sustainable Development Goals. Through our EnDev funded programme in the Mekong region, we hope to see this technology used in all kitchens, so that truly healthy meals can be served for everyone.”