Smoke hangs heavily over the inhabitants of a small wooden shack in Nepal, billowing from the indoor campfire that is the norm in Nepalese homes as a place to cook. Inefficient, these campfires require a lot of wood, resulting in the frequent need to cut down trees to stoke the flames so the women that tend them dedicate hours of their day to gathering wood.
Each year more than four million people die from the effects of indoor air pollution resulting from open campfires and inefficient cook stoves. The Himalayan Stove Project is a U.S.-based not for profit and part of the Global Alliance For Clean Cookstoves. The team is working to bring small, efficient stoves that have built-in ventilation to the nearly one million people that live on the High Himalayas.
Founded in 2010, the organization has delivered more than 4000 of these cleaner stoves “only 996,000 to go,” said George Basch, a member of the Royal Geographic Society who showed us the small, compact stoves at the PressCamp media event in Park City Utah. For a $150 donation, one family receives a stove, delivered and installed. The project’s “Chief Cook,” Basch has been travelling the world for decades, and is the Managing Trustee of the Paul Basch Memorial Foundation, which provides humanitarian aid to those that live in the Himalayas.
The stoves are delivered to the communities first by vehicle (or sometimes helicopters) and then carried by porters to the recipient families. Thanks to the efficiency of the stove, fewer, and much smaller pieces of wood are needed to cook than with an open campfire, which means less deforestation, and less time spent gathering. The Himalayan Stove Project reports that the stoves reduce fuel requirements by 75% and reduce indoor air pollution by 90%.
The organization is in the midst of an effort to bring nearly 11,000 stoves to the families in the Himalayas, which would be enough stoves, stacked end-to-end to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
The Himalayan Stove Project is also a member of the Envirofit Carbon Credit program, allowing families and businesses to buy carbon offset credits as part of their donation to the project.
For more information on the project, visit their website at himalayanstoveproject.org.