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FACT SHEET: The U.S. Commitment to Cookstoves in India

In September 2010, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.  The Alliance’s ‘100 by 20’ goal calls for 100 million homes to adopt clean and efficient stoves and fuels by 2020.

At an event at the Working Women’s Forum in Chennai, India, Secretary Clinton today announced that two major Indian industrial organizations – the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) – have agreed to join the Alliance.  Both will be invaluable partners in building successful and sustainable cookstove businesses and consumer financing options across India.  CII has committed to link community efforts to its extensive industry network, help commercialize promising cooking technologies, and help integrate clean cookstoves into its other members’ projects.  FICCI will support small and medium-sized local cookstove enterprises, develop microfinance channels to support the purchase of cookstoves, develop women’s employment options, and support Alliance interaction with the Indian government. 

The Issue:  Nearly half of the world’s population – about 3 billion people – cooks their food each day on polluting, inefficient stoves.  Exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires is the fifth worst health risk factor in poor countries and leads to nearly 2 million premature deaths of mostly women and young children each year (more than twice the mortality from malaria).  Cookstoves also increase pressures on local natural resources (e.g., forests, habitat) and contribute to climate change at the regional and global level.

In India, approximately 80 percent of rural homes and 20 percent of urban homes rely on solid fuels like wood or dung for cooking.  As a result, more than 100 million homes suffer unsafe exposures to cookstove smoke.   According to World Health Organization estimates, this exposure causes nearly 500,000 women and children in India to die prematurely each year.  Cookstoves account for about 3.5 percent of India’s national burden of disease.  Additionally, cookstoves represent about half of India’s black carbon inventory. 

A Global Alliance:  The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is working with public, private, and non-profit partners to help overcome market barriers and achieve large-scale production, deployment, and use of clean stoves and fuels in the developing world.  The Alliance comprises a rapidly growing list of nearly 100 public, private, philanthropic, NGO, academic, and other partners, including the governments of Burkina Faso, Denmark, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Honduras, Ireland, Kenya, Lesotho, Malta, Nigeria, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Rwanda, Spain, Tanzania, and the United States.

U.S. Government Commitment:  The United States Government has committed more than $50 million to the Alliance over the next five years.  Participating U.S. agencies include: The State Department, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services (National Institutes of Health; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and the U.S. Agency for International Development.  The U.S. Government is mobilizing financial resources, providing top-level U.S. experts, and leveraging research and development tools to help the Alliance achieve its ‘100 by 20’ target. Other U.S. agencies also are considering investments in this sector.

India: U.S. Government Cookstoves Activity by Agency

Department of Energy (DOE):  DOE is working to secure funding for research and development to advance clean and affordable cookstove technologies, which would be tightly linked to laboratory and field testing to ensure performance and usability of the clean stoves and to monitor adoption.  If funding is secured, DOE would look forward to engaging with research and development and testing organizations in other countries such as India to move these critical technologies forward.

Department of State:  The State Department is leading diplomatic discussions with the Government of India – as well as with private, non-governmental, and multi-lateral partners – regarding collaboration on cookstoves and the Alliance.  The State Department leads the U.S. federal interagency discussions and coordination with the Alliance, and also coordinates diplomatic dialogues related to global partnerships, health, women’s issues, climate change, and the environment.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):  EPA’s Partnership for Clean Indoor Air (PCIA) funded two pilot projects in India, organized two social marketing workshops with partners in India, organized a stove testing and design improvement capacity building workshop, and in 2007, hosted the 3rd Global PCIA Forum in Bangalore.  In addition, EPA held three stakeholder meetings in India, a stove testing workshop in Pune and is field testing First Energy’s “Oorja” stove in Kholapur; this stove will also be used in lab testing to help determine correlation of lab and field results.  EPA plans to continue capacity building activities in India – especially stove design and performance work as well as in-field stove testing.  In addition, EPA has started a productive dialogue with the Indian Government around stove testing and setting up stove testing facilities.

Health and Human Services (HHS):  Under the auspices of the Indo-U.S. Collaboration on Environmental and Occupational Health, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (with assistance from EPA) are providing technical assistance to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in support of ICMR-funded research regarding indoor air pollution affects on the following populations: (1) chronic lung disease among women; (2) pregnant mothers, adverse birth outcomes and early childhood pneumonia; (3) cardiovascular and respiratory health impacts among adults and; (4) children and asthma.  NIH also is currently supporting a research program in Vellore examining indoor air pollution as a risk factor for respiratory infections in children younger than 2 years.  Additionally, a joint initiative is being developed with the Directorate General of Health Services to better understand the impact of improved cookstoves on reducing burn injury among Indian users.

National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):  NOAA scientists are collaborating with Indian scientists to develop and utilize sophisticated instruments to measure black carbon to characterize the climate impact of soot from cookstoves.

National Science Foundation (NSF):  NSF is planning to support and provide technical expertise for a workshop on cookstoves and compact power in Delhi in collaboration with IIT Delhi and the University of Maryland. 

U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID):  USAID is currently implementing a cookstoves program in India to:  1) develop and test innovative demand generation strategies; 2) improve distribution channels and increase the use of microfinance; 3) collaborate with the government and other experts to help develop efficiency standards for advanced cookstoves; 4) determine and address market barriers, such as tariffs and taxes; and 5) develop and demonstrate approaches that will contribute to the Government of India’s National Biomass Cookstove Initiative.  Work is currently being done in select areas of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and is being initiated in Uttarakhand.


Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on The Working Women’s Forum

I want to thank my friend and your friend, a wonderful woman who is viewed as a leader around the world, Jaya. (Applause.)

I want you to know that I have admired the work of the Working Women’s Forum for many years. (Applause.) In 1978, there were only 800 women members. Today, there are more than 1 million of you. (Applause.) I am honored to be here with you to celebrate your accomplishments in bringing micro-credit to women, in bringing healthcare and other services to women so they could have a better life for themselves and their children. (Applause.)

I believe in the self-help movement that all of you are a part of, because I have seen the results with my own eyes. From Bangladesh to India to South Africa to Chile and Nicaragua and Latin America, I have seen women’s lives change, as we heard from the wonderful story earlier. Every one of you has a story, and I applaud you for what you have done to help yourselves. (Applause.)

So today, I wanted to bring you some more help, to help more women. (Applause.) I’m very pleased to announce that Goldman Sachs, a very important global financial company, has decided to support a training program through the Indian School of Business to help self-help groups bring even more knowledge and skills about how to take your businesses from the very local village level to the cities, to the countries, to the world. (Applause.)

I also know there are several panchayat members here, and I thank you for working so hard to promote government and democracy at the local level. (Applause.) So I am pleased to announce that the Government of the United States and the Government of India will establish a regional training program at the Asia University of Women to spotlight the success of the panchayat program, and train more women to be local leaders like you.

We also want to continue working with the Working Women’s Forum on the very serious problem we just heard about, violence against women. (Applause.)

And we want to work with you on another problem, and that is the smoke that you breathe when you are cooking for your families. I looked at an exhibition of cooking stoves outside with Dr. Kalpana Balakrishnan of Sri Ramachandra University. Is she here? Is that – yes. Doctor? She is one of the world’s experts on how to make cooking safer for women and children. (Applause.) Because of the health problems caused by breathing smoke, we have worked with many partners around the world to create the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves. (Applause.) And we’re very proud that the Indian Government launched its own National Biomass Cookstove Initiative two years ago, that is trying to save lives and improve the conditions for cooking for millions of Indian women.

And so we will work with people around the world to help develop clean cookstoves, help to manufacture them so they are affordable for you to buy them, and we are delighted that we have partners right here with the Working Women’s Forum, with the Confederation of Indian Industries, and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, who have joined the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, to make your lives and the lives of your children better and healthier. (Applause.)

So it is for me a great honor to be here with all of you to celebrate the wonderful work that the Working Women’s Forum has done, to thank you all for the examples you are setting for both your daughters and your sons, and to pledge myself to continue working with you on the important issues that are necessary to empower women so that you have your right to be whoever you want to be and to do what you believe is right and to lay the pathway for your daughters and your sons for a better future. (Applause.)

So, Jaya – Jaya, come down here. Come down here. Come down here. This is a woman who has worked so hard. (Applause.) And all of you will have to decide how you can follow her model, so that you not only help yourselves and your families but you spread the word about microfinance, about bank accounts, about starting businesses, about getting health services, about empowering the women of this state, and giving everyone a chance to live up to your God-given potential. (Applause.)


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