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Climate change, cook stoves, and coughs and colds

Pant, KP, SK Pattanayak, and MBM Thakuri. 2010. Climate change, cook stoves, and coughs and colds: Thinking global and acting local in rural Nepal.

Improved cook stoves (ICS) are widely viewed as a relatively cheap and effective way to resolve a
major public health problem: acute respiratory infections from indoor air pollution. It is no surprise
therefore that South Asia, a hotspot for biomass burning, has witnessed concerted research supporting
the design and promotion of ICS and ventilated kitchens. Much less is known about the co-benefits of
ICS in terms of reduced fuelwood use, forest and biodiversity conservation, time savings for women
and children, and regional climate benefits (because of reductions in short-lived greenhouse gases and
black carbon). We address this gap by drawing on a pair of multi-disciplinary studies in the Rasuwa,
Syangia and Chitwan districts of Nepal in 2006, which use socio-economic surveys of 1,000
households and pollution monitoring to measure cooking technology, kitchen design, fuel type,
fuelwood consumption, time allocation, particulate matter concentration, health conditions, medical
costs, and socio-economic status. Statistical (paired) comparisons of households across districts
differing in socio-demographic and eco-climatic dimensions show that ICS can reduce PM
concentration (10-70%), acute respiratory illnesses (10-30%), medical costs (10-50%), cooking and
collection time (20%), fuelwood consumption (25%) and GHG emissions (25%). These results are
robust to econometric modeling (using instrumental variable methods) that account for omitted
variable bias and endogenous household responses. If these impacts collectively imply high internalrates-
of-return on ICS use, why aren’t more households adopting this technology? We believe that
credit, information and peer-pressure are key constraints, and that info-regulatory campaigns and
micro-finance schemes under CDM hold tremendous promise.

Permanent link to this article: http://sites.duke.edu/cookstove/research/climate-change-cook-stoves-and-coughs-and-colds/

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