Clean Cookstoves

Guide to Clean Cookstoves

Currently, 3 billion people, mostly women cooking for their families or as street vendors, use inefficient stoves to cook food. Cookstove improvements can provide significant benefits for these families’ health and livelihoods and impact global sustainability.

 Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

The UN Foundation is a leader in the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, a public-private initiative 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 Foundation’s efforts with the Alliance achieve improvements in its target areas of women and children’s health, climate and energy, and population. The work of the Alliance also advances the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals, particularly goals for ending poverty and hunger, gender equality, child health, maternal health, and environmental sustainability. Its primary goal is to work collectively with its partners to stimulate a thriving global market for clean cookstoves and fuels. The aim is to achieve – and ideally surpass – reaching 100 million homes by the 2020 target. 

Additional resources: (This is by no means a complete list; your additions are very welcome! Send an email to ­­­­

 United Nations Foundation: Partner Page for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

Information on the partnership of the Foundation and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

 The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

Home page of the Alliance, with an overview of their activities, goals, and mission, as well as links to additional resources.

 The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves: Solution

Addresses how clean cookstoves and other clean cooking solutions save lives, empower women, improve livelihoods, and combat climate change.

 Household Cookstoves, Environment, Health, and Climate Change

World Bank report defining improved cookstoves, highlighting the importance of improving household cooking, and looking at potential game changers and the way forward in the new generation of cookstoves.

Health Impacts of Stoves

Improvements in cookstoves can appreciably reduce indoor emissions. Indoor air pollution, mostly a result of cooking, is listed by the World Health Organization as the 8th most important risk factor for disease worldwide. Most of the victims of indoor air pollution are the women and children who spend much of their time inside preparing meals. And every year, twice as many people die as a result of exposure to cooking smoke as from malaria.

 Additional resources: (This is by no means a complete list; your additions are very welcome! Send an email to ­­­­

 World Health Organization: Indoor Air Pollution and Health Factsheet

Examines the scope of the indoor air pollution problem and the major health impacts associated with indoor air pollution, as well as the disproportionate impact of indoor air pollution on women and children and the WHO’s action points.

 Time to Tackle One of the World’s Deadliest Killers: Cookstove Smoke

Article by United Nations Foundation President Timothy Wirth discussing the impacts of smoke from inefficient cookstoves on health and development.

 In-Home Coal and Wood Use and Lung Cancer Risk

2010 report by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences showing that emissions from wood and coal smoke are carcinogenic.

 Climate Impacts of Stoves

The reductions in emissions which make the people who use clean cookstoves healthier can make for a healthier planet as well. Every year, 730 million tons of biomass are burned in developing countries, producing more than 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Black carbon emissions from soot are responsible for 50% of atmospheric warming, states an article in Scientific American. In areas where biomass fuels such as wood and charcoal are harvested unsustainably, supplying cleaner stoves and alternative fuels reduces the burden on the landscape to provide cooking fuel. It is important to keep in mind that cookstove users are not to blame for using inefficient technologies. These women and children are simply using the technologies and fuels available from them to provide for their family.

 Poster 8: Reducing Carbon Emissions

A clean cookstove can reduce carbon emissions by up to 3 tons per year.

 Linking Indoor Air Pollution to Climate Change

One of a series of features on air quality, the Shell Foundation investigates the connection between indoor air pollution and climate change.

 Brown Haze from Cooking Fires Cooking Earth, Too

Scientific American article on the contribution of a brown haze over Asia from cookstove smoke to climate change.

  Gender Impacts of Stoves

            Women are the primary collectors of solid fuels, and spend a significant amount of time gathering wood and charcoal, as much as four hours per day. Improved cookstoves can eliminate or considerably decrease this time investment, freeing hours for childcare or income-generating activities. Also, the search for fuel exposes women and girls to attack and rape. Reducing or eliminating the need to gather wood or charcoal empowers women.

 Additional resources: (This is by no means a complete list; your additions are very welcome! Send an email to ­­­­

 Poster: 20 Hours a Week

The third in the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves’ poster series, this image focuses on the time that fuel collection takes away from women.

 Energy as a key variable in eradicating extreme poverty and hunger: A gender and energy perspective on empirical evidence on MDG #1

DFID’s discussion paper links gender, energy, and the first Millennium Development Goal to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. Cooking and fuel gathering are recognized to be important elements of the gender and energy equation, and improved cookstoves presented as part of the solution to issues around gender and energy.

 Poster: Risk of Violence

This poster from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves highlights the danger that women and girls are exposed to as they gather fuel.

  Livelihood Impacts of Stoves

            Clean cookstoves improve the livelihoods of poor households in a myriad of ways. Where fuel is collected, time saved can be used for income-generating activities. Where fuel is purchased, there are savings from reduced consumption. The cost of a cleaner cookstove can be covered by fuel savings in a few months. Where carbon credits are in place, credits are another source of revenue. And on a broader scale, the supply chain to provide regional households with improved stoves creates jobs and economic revenues.

 Additional resources: (This is by no means a complete list; your additions are very welcome! Send an email to ­­­­

 Poster: Save Fuel and Money

Poster: Create Jobs and Improve Livelihoods

Poster: Pay for Your Stove with Savings

These three posters from the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves’ series illustrate the potential that clean cookstoves have to improve the lives and livelihoods of stove recipients. More efficient stoves save fuel, and therefore money  in the long run, create jobs in the local economy, and can be paid for in the short run by savings from fuel.

 WFP and Safe Access to Firewood: Protecting and Empowering Communities

The World Food Programme is acting with other United Nations divisions on the cooking needs of communities worldwide by providing cookstoves to households and schools, improving livelihoods immediately and in the long term by encouraging school attendance.

  Background on Improving Stoves

All clean cookstoves reduce emissions of airborne particulates and pollutant gases, making cooking more green. Broadly, cookstove improvements should meet user needs, be scalable, perform well, and be easily monitored. Improvements in cookstoves come in three main technical areas: clean fuels, stove technologies, and behavioral and structural solutions.

Technologies for cleaner cookstoves are tremendously diverse. Some models use alternative or clean fuels; another subset of stoves use traditional biomass fuels, but reduce the amount of fuel consumed. Other solutions for cleaner cookstoves influence the behavior of users or the structure in which stoves are used.

 Additional resources: (This is by no means a complete list; your additions are very welcome! Send an email to ­­­­

 Clean Cookstoves: Technology Poised for a Breakthrough

Powerpoint with Aprovecho/Shell Foundation and Waxman-Markey Bill proposed definitions of clean cookstoves.

 What is a Clean Cookstove?

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves defines a clean cookstoves and provides an overview of clean cookstove technologies.

 Cooking Options in Refugee Situations

This handbook by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees provides a summary of practical options for domestic energy in refugee situations, covering both experimental and proven technologies, with a particular focus on stoves.

Emerging Technologies and Costs

Not every new cookstove technology will lead to improvements in health, climate, and livelihoods, nor can one stove address all the challenges associated with cookstoves.

 Clean Household Energy for All

The World Health Organization’s pamphlet which outlines foci for clean domestic energies. The WHO emphasizes the importance of quantifying the pros and cons of new technologies in each area.

 Aprovecho Research Center

Home page of the Aprovecho Research Center with information on research and development, their StoveTec improved stove, and emissions testing and evaluation.


The store of the StoveTec company has example prices for wood and charcoal burning improved stove technologies.

 US Department of Energy: Biomass Cookstoves Technical Meeting Summary Report

A summary of the Department of Energy’s offices of Policy and International Affairs  and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy 2011 meeting, to gather input on a proposed DOE research and development program to address the technical barriers to cleaner and more fuel-efficient biomass cookstoves. The summary condenses evaluations of the program’s goals, identifies major research challenges, and defines pathways towards technology solutions.

 Building Viable Domestic Biogas Programmes

This publication by SNV, the Netherlands Development Organization reveals the techniques behind SNV’s success in the domestic biogas sector, explains the technology of domestic biogas, the services it potentially provides to its customers, and how these services link to the needs of rural farming households in developing countries, as well as discussing the main features and challenges of SNV’s approach.

Prepared by Charlotte Ambrozek, Intern


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