Cooking and keeping warm is essential to any household, but for villagers living in extreme poverty, fulfilling those needs can be costly. In rural Nepal, indoor air pollution caused by wood stoves leads to significant health concerns, particularly for women and children. Prolonged exposure to unclean air lowers the life expectancy of women and children in Nepal. During their lifetimes they often suffer from eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, while more long-term health concerns such as respiratory diseases, heart disease, and cancer can end lives tragically early.
The health and well-being of women and children is integral to the health and well-being of a community. Sustainable poverty solutions depend on the education of children, the health of families, and promotion of gender equity. These solutions are all hindered when women and children suffer unhealthy living environments, as is their quality of life. CHOICE has made it a priority to help control indoor air pollution and save those vulnerable to it from related hazards; to do this, CHOICE has been implementing biodigesters and metal stoves throughout communities in Nepal.
Biodigesters are a simple and sustainable way to provide a home with a safe, clean stove. They use biomass (i.e. animal and human waste) to produce methane gas to power the stoves. Slurry, the by-product of the digester, makes for a highly valuable organic manure that villagers can use to improve their farming. With biodigesters villagers can eliminate the need for wood-burning stoves, keep the air in their homes clean, and produce fertilizer for their crops all at once.
In higher-elevation parts of Nepal, biodigesters cannot be feasibly constructed, but a solution to indoor air pollution is just as vital. In these areas of Nepal, CHOICE instead provides and promotes metal stoves with an in-built chimney system. These stoves funnel smoke outside the house, keeping indoor air clean, and warm the home in the process. They’re also efficient, using only 30% of the wood needed for traditional stoves. This reduces air pollution and deforestation; it also significantly cuts down on the time women spend collecting firewood, giving them opportunities to pursue personal and family interests they didn’t have time for before.
Through the use of biodigesters and efficient metal stoves, CHOICE is saving lives, improving the health and comfort of women and children, helping the environment, and, in the process of it all, ending poverty.