New biomass cookstove standards to curb deforestation and pollution
For decades now, cooking has been one of the under prioritized sectors. The sub-sector employs a substantial population in Tanzania – majority being women.
At both commercial and household level, women face the same challenge where firewood collection takes a significant portion of a woman’s time and deprive them of an opportunity to engage in other meaningful activities.
Due to a lack of efficient cook stove products available in the market, households and small cooking businesses often resort to using unimproved cook stoves which use wood fuel or charcoal inefficiently—increasing the costs of food provision.
This important, but surmountable challenge for the nation has brought together SNV Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA) in an effort to bolster the enabling environment of the cooking sub-sector in Tanzania by highlighting the good work of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) in their recently released Biomass Cook Stove Standards.
Project Manager of the Energising Development Cooking programme, Hassan Bussiga and Executive Secretary at TAREA, Matthew Matimbwi explain the released standards and its benefits.
What are the benefits of the new standards?
“The biomass cook stoves standards set the minimum performance requirements of stoves and fuels. The standards aim at ensuring high performance of stoves in burning fuel and in the environmentally friendly manner. Standards will promote the reduction of the amount of burned fuel as the cooking appliances have increased energy efficiency.
Why this standard is useful for the cook stove industry and improving the quality of products in the market?
“The biomass cook stove standard document is good for the industry because – as standards define quality and minimum requirements and provide recognized solutions for the protection of consumer’s health, safety and the environment. The cooking subsector in the country has been operated as informally oriented with lots of poor-quality products in the markets.
Having this standard document, and if well implemented by organizing and conducting awareness meetings with different groups, such as producers, project implementers etc; and finally enforced it means that only quality improved cook stoves (ICS) will be produced, promoted and thus meet the purpose of having standard (i.e. protection of consumer’s health, safety and the environment while satisfying customer need.
Why is this a big milestone for the sub-sector?
“Market growth is highly contributed by the supply of quality products. For the case of solid biomass cooking technologies, cooking appliances should be used in line with quality fuels.
The availability of the standard will enable the acceptance of the solid biomass cooking technologies as acceptable quality appliances and their respective fuels will be distributed to the end users. It is high time to promote the stove and fuel manufacturers to adopt the standards and use them,” explained Bussiga.
When the standard was officially released?
This Tanzania Standard was published under the authority of the Board of Directors of Tanzania Bureau of Standards in June 2019. The domestic biomass stove has been a common cooking stove used in Tanzania. The qualities of these products have been varying and therefore the level of their performance. Basing on this fact and issues of protecting the users against inferior products and assisting manufacturers to produce quality products, this Tanzania Standard was revised in 2010 and it only used charcoal as a fuel.
This was done to ensure the availability of quality domestic charcoal cooking stoves. The standard has been revised to take into consideration, all types of biomass fuels, durability, safety and emission issues that were not included in the previous version.
This Tanzania Standard is a revision of the first version finalized in 2010. This second edition cancels and replaces the first edition TZS 473: 2010 which has been technically revised.
What are the technical requirements to be considered?
“In here, there are two types of requirements; basic requirements and manufacturing requirements by the standards.
Basic requirements by the Standard
The stove shall have good finish without burrs (rough or sharp edges) or rust outside.
The stove or any of its parts may be manufactured using different materials and/or methods; ii. C astings shall have a good finish and without cracks, stomata (holes) and sand holes;
Weldments shall be flat and uniform without perforations and slag stomata;
Stamped parts shall have a good finish without cracks, wrinkles, flashes and burrs;
Sheet metal surfaces and edges shall have a good finish without cracks, wrinkles, bumps and any type of imperfection;
Riveted pieces shall be firmly attached, and the rivets shall not be loose and/or skewed. Rivet heads shall be smooth and shall not protrude;
Ceramic parts shall have a good finish without cracks and voids;
For stoves made of different parts such as ceramic core and a metal cladding, the parts shall be firmly assembled; and
The stove shall have made from a metal sheet having a thickness of not less than 0.65mm (22 g).
Is there an example of an improved cook stove which is ready to be tested by the Standard?
“The Matawi stove developed by EnDev through SNV Tanzania is one model that will be submitted for testing to TBS. A multi-purpose stove capable of using both firewood and charcoal depending on the preference of the user at the time of cooking.
The stove is available in entry cost levels via a stand-alone ceramic model. The previous laboratory stove testing results (by University of Dar es Salaam and Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute) show that the Matawi stove has increased efficiency of fuel consumption by 45% as compared to a 3 stones fire.
How does this standard align with the Ministry of Natural Resources, VPO- Environment and Ministry of Energy efforts to reduce biomass/ charcoal consumption?
“The standards will promote cooking energy efficiency affected by reduced amount of the fuel burned and heat conservation.
Due to the increased fuel burning efficiency, the number of greenhouses and particulates emissions will be reduced. The enforcement of the standards will contribute to the efforts of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism on forestry conservation; and efforts of Prime Ministers’ Office-Environment and Union Affairs in reversing climate change,” elaborated Matimbwi.
How can the use of high-quality improved cook stoves reduce the risk of mortality from Covid-19?
High levels of air pollution may be one of the most important contributors to deaths from Covid-19, according to research.
The analysis shows that of all coronavirus deaths across 66 administrative regions in Italy, Spain, France and Germany, 78% of them occurred in just five regions, and these were the most polluted.
According to the “Thompson Reuters News April 2020” the study on COVID-19, Air pollution and use of inefficient cook stoves, clearly depicts that people exposed to air pollution are more likely to die from COVID-19 than people living in areas with cleaner air.
However, there is a need for epidemiological studies to explore the association between exposure to biomass smoke and COVID-19.
The existing scheme to provide the poor with improved cook stoves and cleaner fuels should become a top priority in the long run.
About SNV and TAREA partnership
The Biomass cook stove standard has been developed by Tanzania Bureau of Standards and it has been gazetted, hence ready for use. SNV, in partnership with TAREA, through its Energising Development Programme have an agreement to bolster the enabling environment of the cooking sub-sector in Tanzania which focuses on policy, standard dissemination and formulation of a cooking energy working group.
One of the objectives of this agreement is Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA) and SNV Netherlands Development Organization will be working together to promote the adoption and dissemination of the cook stove standards.
Biomass cook stove and fuel producers will be informed on the availability of standards and access to them. Stove producers will be supported to conduct tests of their products at Tanzania Bureau Standards.
Furthermore, the project will advertise the product that will pass the test at Tanzania Bureau of Standards.
This article was orginally published on 10 June 2020 in the Citizen newspaper in Tanzania . You can see the orginal web version here.