Women play a pivotal role in household cooking sector in the South Asia region. Particularly, in India, nearly 60 percent of the population depends on polluting, open fires or inefficient stoves to cook their food. On May 15, SAWIE hosted a webinar to highlight some of the best practices from the World Bank’s Bangladesh Clean Cookstoves Program and lessons for the South Asia Region, in particular India. The expert panel deep-dived into ground level realities, challenges and opportunities w.r.t clean cookstoves – as an enabler to improved women health with reduced inhouse air-pollution and poverty alleviation through income generation/livelihood opportunities.
Speakers included Anand Kumar, Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, and former secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy; Dinesh Jagdale, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy; Amit Jain, Senior Energy Specialist at the World Bank; Ajaita Shah, founder and CEO of Frontier Markets; Asna Towfiq, the Country Representative for Bangladesh at the Clean Cooking Alliance; and Vaishali Sinha, Chair of SAWIE and the Renew Foundation. The webinar was moderated by Michael Satin, Director of the Clean Energy and Environment Office at USAID India.
The featured presentation listed the World Bank initiative to promote the adoption of clean cooking stoves in Bangladesh along with Infrastructure Development Company Limited (IDCOL) and other partners. The Bangladesh experience highlighted the importance of person-to-person networks and engaging with local entrepreneurs as key to the success of this program as well as the importance of central-level policy action to achieve 100% clean cooking by 2030.
The keynote address highlighted the importance of renewable energy as “the future to which we all belong” and should contribute to for the benefit of future generations. Overall, the panelists shared the opinion that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for clean cooking, especially in India, as a large country with diverse regional cooking traditions and resources. They highlighted the importance of designing clean cooking solutions that meet the ‘needs and aspirations’ of end users. Moreover the importance of behavioural change campaigns to promote clean cooking in different countries and working together with all stakeholders, building local alliances, and having women lead efforts to address women’s issues was highlighted.
As a direct outcome of this webinar, SAWIE will work with World Bank and other stakeholders to prepare a Policy Paper in increasing access to clean cooking practices in India.