Dr Arupjyoti Kalita
Bina Rabha lives in Jharapata village near Chandubi, one of the remote villages of the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council in Assam. She says that their source of wood for the traditional cooking stove is the nearby forest area about two kilometers away by the roadside. She often needs to enter jungles to collect firewood. She had to face many troubles and had an accident while climbing a hill in the summer season. Now she is happy with the fuel-efficient cooking stove introduced by the C-Quest Capital. "The earlier traditional stove used up to two kilograms of fuel wood to cook one meal for the family. But with the new fuel-efficient stoves that can take two pots at a time, the same amount of cooking consumes somewhat less than half that amount of fuel," she points out. Bina now devotes the extra time on her weaving machine and is making some money from selling her silk eri sadors.
Every year 500,000 women and children die in India due to long exposure to smoke in rural kitchens. Each day, the equivalent of 10 million trees is burned for cooking and traditional cooking stoves release over 4 million tons of CO2 per day. As such, cooking stoves are a leading source of black carbon emissions. Indoor air pollution (IAP) is now definitively linked with causing five major diseases: lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia and other acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI), loss of vision including cataracts, and heightening risk of cardiovascular disease. IAP can cause these illnesses both directly and indirectly. It is estimated that at least 400 million people in India are exposed to the impacts of indoor air pollution. Estimates suggest that at a minimum, 360 million people, primarily women, are directly impacted by IAP. Again it is estimated that 48 million others, particularly babies, are affected by IAP as well. Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) are designed to reduce the fuel consumption per meal and to curb smoke emissions from open fires inside dwellings. It is beneficial to the users for less exposure to toxic smoke, fewer burns and other injuries, healthier, cleaner lifestyle, less cooking time, less money spent on fuel, more productive time left and it brings sense of pride for using an 'advanced' product.
C-Quest Capital, a social impact project developer based out of Washington DC, US, recently launched of a new venture in Rabha Hasong tribal areas in Assam for integration of carbon credit supply through improved cooking stove initiative. This new initiative replaces traditional inefficient rudimentary stoves with improved cooking stoves across rural households in Assam. Through this venture, it will manage the manufacturing and distribution of improved cooking stoves which offers a diversified and comprehensive bouquet of end-to-end solutions for climate action and carbon offset. C-Quest Capital's improved cooking stove initiative is a community development programme that provides efficient cooking stoves free of cost to economically weaker families in remote locations across Assam as part of a global mission for carbon offset through clean cooking.
"Efficient cooking stoves are not only environmentally safer given its reduced emission of greenhouse gases, but they also offer numerous social and economic benefits that align with multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including climate action, reduction in firewood consumption, forest and biodiversity conservation, good health and well-being, employment creation, savings in health cost, enhancement of indoor air quality inside homes amongst others," said Tridip Kumar Goswami, chief of Carbon and Sustainability Accounting Team of C-Quest Capital recently while addressing an inauguration programme of household energy efficiency programme at Kahuwa village in Pantan under the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council area. He also mentioned that the technologies adopted in these cooking stoves convey large health benefits and decreases fire risks and are thus important for developing regions like that of North-East India. The pressure on forests to provide fuel for cooking, heating and hot water is leading to severe degradation of forest resources. The accompanying loss of flora and fauna though deforestation by logging and agricultural activities is still a major cause of global climate change. The supply chain can also provide rural employment and new skills among the unemployed.
"We are trying to empower the average economically backward women. Government has given subsidized gas cylinders, but it won't work because many people will still not be able to afford it. Introducing the clean energy cooking stove by C-Quest in our areas will definitely bring changes because this technology of improved cooking stoves is user-friendly and it is now available, affordable, accessible and accepted by our community. We are also sensitizing our people and organizing awareness creation meetings intensively for users to understand the impact of using improved cooking stoves and its benefits", Ramakanta Rabha, vice president of the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council says.
C-Quest Capital has given out over 30,000 cooking stoves as on date and plans to scale the initiative to 16,00,000 cooking stoves in 10,00,000 households across the entire Northeastern states in the next three years, which can help offset more than 10 million metric tonne of carbon footprints. C-Quest Capital has currently joined hands with Rabha tribal community institutions to launch a joint venture to work on reducing carbon emissions in India through nature-based solutions.