Cooking can kill. Indoor pollution from cooking on smoky stoves is the fourth biggest health risk in the developing world. Nearly half the people in the world use polluting, inefficient stoves to cook their food each day and 1.9 million people die worldwide each year from exposure to indoor smoke from their cooking stoves. In India, many households still cook indoors on open wood fires releasing harmful smoke, which is damaging to health for all the family. In response to this global issue the United Nations Foundation is leading an initiative called ‘The Global Alliance for clean cookstoves’. The challenge is obvious however the solution is slightly more illusive. Putting into action a plan to implement a cook stove that is healthy, suits the specifics of the communities need and is affordable is a complex procedure and finding the right prototype that fits the purpose could take some time. TCW is taking a practical approach. We have been working with our Indian partners for years to create a good relationship with communities in Tamil Nadu who are suffering ill health from using indoor open fires. Our partners in India are a local NGO called SCAD and they work with over 500 villages reaching nearly half a million people. Therefore we are in a well-placed position to find out what the specific cooking needs of the women in some of these villages are. One of our team is heading out to India next week to start testing out a few different kinds of cooking methods with groups of women to see what works for them. SCAD has been working for more than 25 years supporting social development. The twinning relationship between communities in the UK and the community of SCAD in Tamil Nadu is a demonstration of two communities trying to come together as a single community and put in place solutions. TCW is particularly interested to twin on sustainable development because it believes that global problems need global partnerships to effect change. In addition to the wood stove, TCW in partnership with SolarSense will be pilot testing the parabolic solar cooker in an effort to understand if the technology is practical, affordable, and more importantly socially appropriate in the context of southern Indian communities. In order to highlight this issue four Vodafone World of Difference volunteers from The Converging World are doing a semi-naked photo shoot entitled ‘How to cook good naked’ with the donated parabolic solar cooker from SolarSense on Friday. This wild idea is to try and get the maximum attention for the devastating health affects women all over the world suffer from for performing an everyday activity. The photoshoot is inspired by Gok Wan, the celebrity ambassador for Vodafone World of Difference, which is funding the volunteers’ projects. CEO of TCW, Wendy Stephenson, says that ‘Wood stove technology is not new but we need to put more of it to use, much more quickly. It is better for the environment because by burning the wood more efficiently, you use less wood, produce less CO2 emissions and less local air pollution. But perhaps more importantly in the immediate future, wood stoves can help save lives and prevent harmful health effects’.
A little more information about Solarsense Solarsense is the leading installer of solar technologies in the South West and is based near Bristol. Established in 1994 and with over 4,500 installations completed, it is one of the most experienced installers in the UK. Solarsense designs and installs PV and solar thermal systems on domestic, commercial and agricultural buildings. Solarsense takes its social responsibility very seriously and has been involved in a range of solar projects to improve sanitation, health or social facilities in various parts of the developing world. It donates a percentage of its gross profits each year to help projects or areas of the world most in need. The most recent expedition, to Ethiopia, took place at the end of February, where the team installed solar powered medical refrigeration units for desperately needed vaccinations in a remote health clinic.