Soon after Maya Begum, 30, a poor rural woman from Nowkoir village of Solop Union Parishad under Ullapara Upazila Parishad, Sirajganj district, tried to make fire in her traditional stove the whole kitchen became full of black smoke;
eyes started burning, became watery and reddened, the two little kids playing nearby started coughing and finally forced to go out of the house to breath.
“It suffered us a lot. The smoke it produced caused several health problems like strong burning and redness of the eyes, bad headache, constant inhaling of the smoke caused respiratory problems of the kids like asthma, pneumonia and bronchitis,” says Maya. “Every day I had to fetch lot of firewood and stay long hours in the kitchen and obviously toxic inhalation of smokes.”
But the sufferings of Maya Begum and her family eased now as they installed the eco-friendly low-cost “Bondhu Chula” that helped to transform the lives of hundreds of families in Nowkoir village.
With the fiscal facility support from Upazila Governance Project (UZGP), the Ullapara Upazila under Sirajganj district has taken a BDT. 6 lakh scheme to install 280 “Bondhu Chula” to 280 households aimed at helping the rural poor families in saving fuel, reducing carbon in the environment and mitigating health hazards (toxic smoke inhalation) to housewives and domestic helps. The project has also provided a two-day training to the families how to use the stove.
Unlike the traditional cooking stove which emits huge smoke in the kitchen harming user’s health, the energy efficient low-cost “Bondhu Chula” produces no smoke, increases energy efficiency by 30 percent, saves fuel by 50 percent compared to traditional stoves. Apart from these, the stove resulted in clean kitchen and pots, reduced burden on forest resources, improved soil fertility by increased use of bio-fertilizer and generated income generation for builders.
“It’s a great help to us. Earlier we were using traditional clay stove which has a long effect with toxic inhalation. The traditional stove was taking more time and created a lot of stain and harmful smoke to health,” said Nargis Begum, 35, another housewife from the same village.
Indoor air pollutants from indoor fuel burning lead to serious human health problems. According to a study conducted by World Health Organization in 2006 that each year 32,000 children and 14,000 women die in Bangladesh only because of indoor air pollution. About 60 million tons of fire wood is burnt in Bangladesh for cooking every year, out of which only 10 percent to 15 percent can be used.
A primary contributor of indoor air pollution is the burning of organic fuels, such as dung, brush and wood – the main sources of energy for cooking and heating. Traditional cook stove is not energy efficient and smoke circulates in the kitchen. That’s why fuel expenditure is much more in ordinary cook stove, it takes more time for cooking, kitchen becomes nasty, and it does harm to user’s health.
“But now there is no smoke…the pipe sucks the smoke out of the home leaving no chance to harm health…cooking time reduced by 50 percent…little fire wood needed for cooking in Bondhu Chula,” Nargis, one out of 280 beneficiaries of Bondhu Chula in Ullapara Upazila, added.
The scheme titled “Bondhu Chula” was one of 12 schemes the Ullapara Upazila Parishad has taken in 2014-2015 FY with the fiscal facility support provided by the project to the Upazila Parishad. The Ullapara Upazila is one of 14 selected UZPs that got the block grants on a competitive basis from 65 UZPs under seven selected districts.
The UZGP, in 2014-2015 FY, provided a total of BDT 67 lakh to Ullapara Upazila as UFF grants by which it took the schemes focusing on pro-poor issues including health, education, poverty alleviation, women empowerment and climate change.
Thanks to new stove, the health of Maya’s family, has improved especially that of her children who, in addition, to eating better, now have fewer respiratory problems and with the time saved from cooking, she now learns tailoring to earn extra money for her family.
Encouraged by the success of the scheme in Ullapara Upazila, the project is now planned to expand the initiative to more 400 families in another Upazila, Bulkuchi Upazila.