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Every day, many of the world’s poorest people across Africa, Asia and Latin America are exposed to fumes from cooking inside their homes with fuels such as wood, animal dung or charcoal.

Millions of women and children spend time searching for wood and other fuels, before slowly cooking meals on inefficient stoves. This takes them away from earning a living or attending school.

Traditional cookstoves also contribute increased emissions of greenhouse gases and black carbon – soot – to the atmosphere.

Billions of people without access to modern energy are exposed to harmful fumes from cooking on open fires and traditional indoor cookstoves.

Billions of people without access to modern energy are exposed to harmful fumes from cooking on open fires and traditional indoor cookstoves.

A breath of fresh air

Now a unique initiative is working to foster a self-sufficient global industry for clean and efficient stoves for cooking and heating. It also raises awareness of the ways these stoves can significantly reduce fuel use, cooking time and emissions, and provide health benefits.

Shell and the independent charity Shell Foundation joined forces with the UN and other public and private partners to create the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves in 2010.

It is the first partnership of its kind to tackle the challenge of indoor air pollution.

As a partner, the single-largest private sector partner Shell is committing $12 million from 2011 until 2016 to help encourage widespread adoption of clean cookstoves. The Global Alliance aims to see such stoves in 100 million homes by 2020.

Shell is also bringing technical and business skills to support the Alliance, including a full time secondee. Our efforts are helping attract investors to the cookstoves sector, while increasing access to carbon finance for clean cooking enterprises.

Shell’s efforts support builds on the work of the independent Shell Foundation, which has been helping to build an international market for affordable clean cookstoves for more than 10 years which helps build self-sustaining enterprises to meet a range of social and environmental challenges.

For more than 10 years, Shell Foundation has been developing the clean cookstoves market. It has worked to make the stoves affordable, drive up market demand, and pioneer sustainable ways to supply stoves to homes in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

In 2007 the Foundation joined with Envirofit International – now also part of the Global Alliance – to design and produce cleaner-burning stoves that are affordable to those most at risk from indoor pollution.

The Envirofit stoves cut cooking times by at least half, and reduce smoke and toxic emissions by up to 80%.

They also use up to 60% less fuel than traditional stoves. This allows many users to cover the cost of the stove – typically between $15 and $30 – within a few months through the fuel they save.

See inside a cleaner-burning cookstove

Envirofit International, a non-profit organisation, worked with research partners in developing a new cleaner-burning stove. They used mathematical modelling and advanced materials to produce a stove that is robust and highly efficient. The stove, which has a patent pending, cuts smoke and harmful gases significantly compared to traditional cooking fires. Some people are using the stoves to improve efficiency and save fuel in their small businesses, from candle-making to roadside restaurants.

Find out how the design of this advanced, wood-burning cookstove makes it cleaner, safer and more economic.