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Carbon, Cookstoves, And Kids
Author: Kelley Hamrick
About This Series
Everyone uses stoves to cook food, but not everyone risks respiratory illness – or even death – by using them. For almost three billion people in the world, open fires and rudimentary stoves are the norm. There is a growing solution, championed by development agencies, entrepreneurs and private companies: “improved” cookstoves and fuels.
Yet getting those models on the ground isn’t as simple as swapping them for the older, dangerous stoves. Even with good marketing and distribution networks, projects often run into a key barrier. Most of their customers – the poorest of the poor – can’t afford the new stoves. That’s where carbon finance can step in.
Ecosystem Marketplace is launching a series on some of the projects built around this type of financing.
Part One: Cookstove Distribution Soars; Carbon Finance Now Top Funding Source We look at the larger supply and demand trends for cookstove carbon offsets, using data from the newly-released Results Report 2013. The report is the second year-long effort by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and Ecosystem Marketplace to track activities in the improved stoves and fuels market.
Part Two: Carbon, Cookstoves, and Kids We go to Honduras, the second poorest country in Central America. After witnessing children with smoke inhalation problems, Richard Lawrence decided to take action. Proyecto Mirador works to distribute clean stoves to rural Hondurans with the help of carbon finance.
Part Three: Carbon Conservation: From Giant Pandas to Swiss Grocer Deep in China, the giant pandas remain at risk from encroaching human populations and deforestation. WWF teamed up with Swiss grocery chain Coop to finance the distribution of cookstoves that will use less firewood for fuel, thus decreasing panda habitat loss.
Part Four: Building Carbon Markets from Soot We examine the Nepalese government’s initiative to ensure clean cooking for all by 2017 through the lens of a Dutch partner non-profit SNV. The organization is trying to build up a private market for stoves, but first uses carbon finance to lower costs for people used to receiving stoves for free.
Bringing clean cookstoves to Honduras, a country where more than half of rural households struggle with extreme poverty, was no easy task. Proyecto Mirador’s founders initially relied on the generosity of friends and family to build the cookstoves program, but tapped into the carbon markets to take it to the next level.
When Hurricane Mitch blew through Central America in 1998, the result was catastrophic. The second deadliest Atlantic hurricane in history claimed 11,000 lives and caused an estimated $6 billion in damage.
Honduras, a poor country with even poorer infrastructure, did not fare well. Humanitarian aid groups flocked to the region, including medical mission volunteers Richard Lawrence and his daughter Skye. The medical mission headed towards Atima, a town in the mountainous coffee growing-region of the country surrounded by countless rural villages.
Richard Lawrence, Executive Chairman of Overlook Investments and future Founder of Proyecto Mirador, acted as a translator for doctors on the trip. Standing in the midst of the crush of people who waited to see the doctors in a primary school temporarily converted to a medical clinic, he was struck by the number of children lined up against one wall of the schoolroom breathing with nebulizers.
“I’m not a doctor, and I thought, the air seems really clean so it beats me what it’s about,” he said.
Skye stumbled upon the explanation by chance, when she visited one of the local children’s homes. The inside of the house was black and filled with smoke from the cooking stove. The stove was constructed of adobe mud, with an oil drum for a cooktop and a wide stove mouth stuffed with logs. There was no chimney, so the smoke curled around the room and turned the ceiling black.