Appropriate Technology

Smokeless fuel-efficient cookstoves

Access to fuel for cooking is frequently a struggle for the poor and marginalised.  The constant search for fuelwood can govern the daily lives of women and be a major factor in preventing girls attending school.  The smoke from traditional cooking which takes place in the home can also be a health hazard for those that cook, children, the elderly and the vulnerable.

Inefficient and smokey traditional cookstove >

I have been involved with cookstove projects in many regions of India and from the Himalayas to the south.  From experience I know that providing simple adaptations to traditional cooking methods that improve fuel-efficiency and provide a cleaner cooking environment can make a huge difference to people’s lives and the environment, at limited cost.  

There are several key factors that need to be borne in mind when making these adaptations:

  1. Cooking methods and vessels should not need to be changed
  2. Fuel type should not need to change, although stove adaptations may offer opportunities to use more sustainable alternatives
  3. Those that regularly cook should ideally be involved in designing adaptations
  4. Construction materials should as far as possible be locally available and cheap
  5. Several members of any beneficiary community should be trained in stove construction
  6. Maintenance should be minimal and within the reach of those that cook
  7. One size/type most definitely does not fit all!

NOTE: For some communities – e.g. nomads inhabiting remote areas, not all of these criteria can be fulfilled – in particular: 3, 4 & 5 – as the stoves need to be portable and therefore cannot be made in-situ. A proven solution is to train local youth and set up simple manufacturing workshops in the nearest local town.

The pictures on this page are from successful cookstove projects in a variety of geographical locations.


The single most important key to success of a cookstove project is committed local constructors who are also movers and shakers in their communities.
Collecting fuel, a daily chore
Yak with portable cookstoves
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