These Women’s Stories Tell the Cookstove Story

July 30, 2012 BY


The story of indoor air pollution, the silent killer in the homes of almost half the world’s population, is complex: from the environmental degradation, wasted time, and safety risks associated with fuel collection; to the significant health impacts caused by cooking over open fire; to the gases from burned coal and biomass that contribute to climate change – the effects of cooking on traditional cookstoves and open fires present a multilayered issue. The consequences are significant -- for the environment, livelihoods, and health, with women and children being the most impacted.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is honored to help tell the story of Sarah, Monica, and Vandana, three women whose lives – and those of their families, friends and community members – were changed for the better when they began using clean cookstoves.

Sarah lost a sister to lung cancer; Monica describes how the grease used to cover her hands and walls, and the persistent illnesses of her children; and Vandana remembers that the smoke often filled her home, causing her to cough and preventing her children from doing their schoolwork indoors.

What becomes apparent throughout each story, however, is the transformational change that one cleaner, improved cookstove has bestowed upon each woman’s day-to-day life, as well as her outlook on her family’s future.

Though they live thousands of miles apart from one another, from Kenya to Peru to India, respectively, their stories demonstrate that they share so much in common: maintaining strong bonds in the community; looking out for the health and well-being of their families; pursuing livelihood activities; and aspiring to a better future for their children.

These women can now add to their commonalities the ability to cook a meal for their family in a safer, cleaner, more efficient manner.

Alliance Global Ambassador Julia Roberts has helped us tie their stories together, painting a picture of the global solutions that are available to help tackle this global problem.

We hope you are inspired by Sarah, Monica, and Vandana’s stories, and that you’ll use them and Julia’s message to help raise awareness among your family and friends!


POSTED IN: Campaigns & Initiatives, Get Involved, Global Issues


Submitted by F. Suzanne Moore on: July 31, 2012 We know about the problem, but what type of fuel is used in these cook stoves. How about promoting solar cookers ... totally free fuel just from the light of the sun?
Submitted by Zoe on: July 31, 2012 Are these cookstoves using propane? How much does it cost the people to buy these? Is the fuel free? What about the idea of some cookstoves being solar powered. Apparently there are ovens that use the sun to both cook and bake. They are used by putting them,loaded with foods, in direct sunlight for a certain amount of time, depending on the contents. These are also free after initial cost and do not rely on anything but a sunny day and higher temperatures. Variations in cook stoves should be used. Also people in rich countries should also attempt to lower their energy usage to a very low level. As we can help with climate change this way as well. Solar ovens should be added to this list and everyone who can, including the richer nations should use them regularly.
Submitted by Robert Stanley on: July 31, 2012 This is such a great and good campaign and initiative for womanhood, families, all humanity and our planet due to its ability to help so many different interrelated issues by changing this one key element of everyday life for a significant portion of the world's population. I love the elegance of so many issues being improved for the better with one key change to everyday life. I am filmmaker. How can I help using my skills to spread the word? Documentaries? PSA's?
Submitted by Julie on: July 31, 2012 I am working with people in Uganda who are providing these stoves to families for a low price. The need for firewood has been cut by 2/3 for families using these stoves. Especially since everything has to be heated, including sterilization of drinking water. This is a huge benefit in time and energy saved, less deforestation, and cleaner air.
Submitted by Ron Robinson on: July 31, 2012 Amazing that you didn't even mention the source of fuel! Julia Roberts, I would cook you a meal on my clean cookstove anyday, but there is so much missing here that it makes me suspicious. Sincerely, Ron
Submitted by Evi Seidman on: July 30, 2012 Thank You, Julia! I am grateful when a woman of you stature takes action to better the lives of the poorest in the world -- I am honored to respond to your message with a (modest) contribution towards this appropriate technology. I am hopeful that your leadership will encourage many to participate who might otherwise feel such plights are hopeless. Bless you! Evi Seidman
Submitted by Hannah on: July 30, 2012 I will take this into my life and try to make a difference about it.
Submitted by Roz on: July 30, 2012 Let's help women cook a meal for their family in a safe environment.
Submitted by Trish Kirschner on: July 30, 2012 Thank you, Julia and women across the globe who are supporting this life-saving cause.
Submitted by Seema Pawar on: July 30, 2012 I am from India and I've seen the situation in India. And currently , i am in East Timor and here also, women use fire woods to cook food. They are cutting trees without thinking about the soil erosion. In East Timor, the biggest challenge during the rainy season is landslide but since the people are not able to relate the cutting of trees with landslide, there is a greater need to create awareness among people and provide them with safer & cleaner ways of cooking meals for their families. The other issue is Tuberculosis and one of the reason for high prevalence of TB is cooking on open fire.
Submitted by alumita on: July 30, 2012 Yes good to know that there is always a better way to cooking in regards to assissting the maitenance of women's health. How do we make this beautiful stove, we could try it in Fiji.
Submitted by Nancy Wang on: July 30, 2012 Why isn't there a link to the clean stoves website? What are they? Shouldn't that be part of this message?
Submitted by Shelley on: July 30, 2012 Thank you for this. I was somewhat aware of the issue and am happy to see more "marketing" around it. However, awareness is not enough. What can we do to alleviate this? is donating money the only way?
Submitted by Tim C. on: July 30, 2012 I think this is a great initiative, and I think that it can be applied everywhere, not just the poorer countries that need it. There needs to be a way in which everyone can be aware of how much they do daily emits and harms our environment. I cannot afford to give at this moment, but I do support this venture.
Submitted by Joan on: July 30, 2012 This is a much needed action. It is hopeful intervention and apparently it is environmentally friendly as well. A win/win.
Submitted by Elizabeth English on: July 30, 2012 I would like to screen this short doc film at Moondance 2012. Please ask the director, the organization, or the UN foundation, contact me about this.
Submitted by Vernette on: July 30, 2012 Thanks Julia for bring this information to me and the millions of women and men in this world that CAN help make this happen!
Submitted by ralph garcia on: July 30, 2012 Thank you for opening the eyes of the world to this. Let's hope that action is taken to help the situation.
Submitted by Abdullah Hamdan on: July 30, 2012 I wish you success and prosperity in the work of the good and the delivery of all that is true to the world Your brother Abdullah Hamdan
Submitted by Anonymous on: July 30, 2012 good idea
Submitted by Patricia Norris on: July 30, 2012 this is a very worthwhile endeavor, impacting health of individuals, and health of the globe.
Submitted by ed on: July 30, 2012 there was no mention of exactly what alternative fuels would be used in the cleaner cookstoves. if, per example natural gas is a main alternative, then perhaps it is not so clean either, when one considers the effects of extacting natural gas from earth thru methods such as fracking.. same could be considered if petroleum fuel oil is an alternative fuel source to wood or other solid combustables...something to consider.
Submitted by Joy on: July 30, 2012 They are our mothers, sisters and daughters...they are our family. As a mother we consistantly strive to not only nuture our children through food but, to provide a safe enviroment. why does the food they prepare have to be the ood that also makes them sick?

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