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Escorts Foundation, Pakistan

Fuel-efficient wood stoves

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Lighting an improved cooking stove. (Photo credit: Martin Wright)

Cooking-stoves don’t have to be difficult to build. Around the forest of Changa Manga in Pakistan stoves are being made of mud and straw. And they are making a big difference.

Changa Manga is a man-made forest of 5000 acres. Unfortunately most people living nearby use the forest’s wood for cooking on open fires and for heating. The result is deforestation, not to mention CO2 emissions and unhealthy family environments. The Escorts Foundation, a Lahore-based charity run by Pakistani women, wanted a solution that was simple and self-sustaining, an efficient wood-burning stove that local women could build and maintain themselves. So they developed the mud and straw-based stove – easy and, importantly, very cheap to build - and backed it up with training of village experts to help new users.

Between 1994 and 2009, Escorts worked with 56 villages and helped install more than 12,000 stoves, benefitting over 96,000 people. Improved stoves halve fuelwood consumption, with total estimated savings in 2009 of over 20,000 tonnes/year of wood, and 17,000 tonnes/year of CO2.

And the stoves bring wider benefits to the women. Not only are they equipped with new skills, but they are cooking in a safer environment and using less time to gather fuel. Time and money can now be spent on more profitable and fulfilling activities.