September 22, 2021, Wednesday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Clean cooking solutions for Nepal

Joint movement may bring the desired result

The Nepal Weekly
August 17, 2021

By Purna N. Ranjitkar

Climate change, environment, women and children health and reducing fossil fuel consumption are linked to Clean Cooking Solutions for Nepal which needs a strong movement ahead.

Literatures on clean cooking solutions mention that compared to a decade ago, millions more families now have access to and are using cleaner, more modern stoves and fuels. Years of global communications and advocacy efforts by CCA and its partners have helped ensure that clean cooking be made part of many countries’ Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Climate Agreement.

This also worth mention that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has recognized clean cooking as a means of addressing short-lived climate forcers like black carbon. In addition, a clean cooking indicator was included in and is being tracked as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. While investment levels are far from where they need to be, more investors are now recognizing that emerging business models can tap into unrealized market opportunities. Clean cooking companies raised more capital in 2019 than in any year since CCA began tracking investment in the industry.

The diseases generated by air pollution are killing 4.3 million human every year in the world and many people suffer such diseases. The same thing causes more than 35000 deaths per year in Nepal.

Clean cooking solution is the instrument which can create a healthy cooking area as women and children mostly get involved in kitchen area they get suffered of diseases caused by smoke. Besides health benefits clean cook salutations support drudgery reduction, reduce deforestation, reduce consumption of imported fossil-fuel i.e. LPG.

The degradation of environment is another big negative effect of the air pollution. As such, many sorts of efforts have been put to minimise the air pollution effects. Clean cook solution is one such effort launched around the world especially in the developing countries. The efforts are fetching expectable efforts, reports say. The total eradication of smoky cooking systems is the destination which may be obtained with more intensified efforts. Knowledge on technology and creating affordability are still challenges to combat. Millennium Development Goal, Sustainable Development Goal, Sustainable Energy for All and other global movements are supporting to enhance clean cook solutions.

Although reports on achievements are said to be satisfactory, the campaign for clean cooking solutions need to be intensified so as all households must get solution for the better health, better living and reinstate better environment. Therefore, more such plans and programmes are required to bring into action in Nepal.

In Nepal, there are more than 75% of households still use solid biomass mainly fuel wood and animal dung for cooking in tradition cookstoves. There are institutions like hotels, restaurants, schools, barracks and religious establishments where biomass is the main source of cooking fuel.

Use of traditional technologies for burning the biomass creates heavy household air pollution besides posing fire and health hazards. Collection or processing of biomass results in drudgery, primarily for women and children. Firewood which is almost two-third of the biomass used in traditional cookstoves contributes greatly in deforestation and global warming as well.

Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), from its inception in 1996 as focal agency of the Government of Nepal for promotion of renewable energy technologies in Nepal. The centre has been successful in disseminating various clean and renewable energy, including cooking solutions in Nepal. AEPC achievements includeinstallation of 1.5 million improved cook stoves (ICS), 450,000 domestic size biogas plants and around 1000 solar cookers. Likewise, other institutions like Centre for Rural Technologies (CRT/N) and Practical Action Nepal also had help install clean technologies to more than 300,000 households.

In January 2013, the government of Nepal has announced an ambitious mission of “Clean Cooking Solutions for All by 2017” (CCS4ALL). However due to various reasons the primarily set target for 2017 has become difficult to attain. Biomass Energy Strategy 2017 has been approved by Government of Nepal which envisagedachievingthe CCS4ALL goal by 2022.

The government, NEA and relevant institutions are promoting electric cooking more emphasizing on induction cooktopsmainly and infrared cooktops.  The incumbent Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation had urged recently to speed up the movement to promote electric cooking so as electricity generated presently in the increased volume could be utilised well and that will help reduce import of LPG. The minister also had mentioned that electricity tariff will soon be revisited to promote electric cooking behaviour of consumers.

According to the statements on electrification in Nepal, nearly 93% of the households have been reported as electrified (connected by the national grid and other technologies). But, the researchers, indicating barriers,state that 65% of the electrified households connected to the national gird have only 5 Ampere capacity service. Furthermore, electricity distribution system is not strong enough to use electricity as energy for cooking for many households.

Moreover, the government of Nepal is promoting Solar PV Mini-grid to provide quality electricity to the off-grid locations; still system is not capable enough to provide cooking facilities. Likewise, planning for enhancementof electricity distribution system of microhydro plants are also said to take place in near future in selected areas. 

Use of LPG is in the growing trend for last 5 years. The users are getting LPG as easy to handle. It avoids firewood collection or operating biogas plants. Family member/s working at foreign employment are finding LPG as an easy solution. Although campaigners are in favour of renewable energy technologies to be promoted as clean cooking solutions, LPG is widening its share. So as import volume of LPG is in the growing trend till the fiscal year 2076-77. In the current situation LPG import every month stands 43,000 MT. The NOC says that around 60 per cent of total households are having LPG as cooking solutions.  

Studies say that Nepal has potential of 1.1 million biogas plants and so far some 450,000 have been constructed. Out of the constructed biogas plants a big portion of them are not in a proper condition to generate gas for cooking. So programmes should be carried out to construct new biogas plants and also attention should be paid on reviving the already constructed but non-functioning plants to bring into proper condition.

Renovation of already installed improved cook stoves (ICSs) may be worthwhile for maintaining the less smoke to belch and less fire wood to consume.

Nepal Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (NACC) was initiated by Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC) which brought a number of stakeholders under an umbrella for strong actions for clean cook solutions for Nepal. This platform is not much active these days but supports campaigns and movements on clean cook solutions.

The Clean Cooking Alliance, formerly the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, is a UN supported non-profit organization actively engaged in promoting clean cooking technologies in lower and middle-income countries including Nepal. The alliance also supports for research and initiatives, advocate for international standards for stove manufacturers, and coordinate research and knowledge of the issues surrounding the use of clean cookstoves. As stated above, plans have been designed for clean cooking solutions to make accessible, available and affordable to users. But, the solutions should be available to all in true sense. Therefore, distribution methodologies should be revisited so as no one have to stay behind. As such, the governments – Federal, Provincial and Local Levels should be well functioning for clean cooking solutions, other stakeholders like government agencies, private sector and even media should work together to bring the desired result.