Promoting the use of improved cook stoves to prevent deforestation, improve health conditions and mitigate climate change impacts.

May 16, 2016

All rights reserved/photo: Nazareth

Dili, May 12  - 94.7% of the Timorese population are relying on wood as primary cooking fuel and 83.3% households using open or no vent traditional cooking devices. The use of fuel wood fires for cooking is harmful to health and the environment. It causes indoor air pollution related diseases and contributes to global climate change. A shift from traditional low-efficient stoves to smokeless stove or Improved Cook Stoves (ICS) will make a huge positive difference in Timor-Leste.

UNDP, the Government of Timor-Leste, and Civil Societies gathered at Hotel Timor on Thursday, 12 May 2016 to discuss the prospects and challenges of promoting ICS in Timor-Leste. The workshop was an open platform where various stakeholders shared their experiences and exchanged innovative ideas on how to promote ICS in Timor-Leste. Several organizations such as MercyCorps, Haburas Foundation, World Vision, Ahisaun, Startec, MDF and Nazareth Foundation have been promoting ICS in Timor-Leste but the penetration level is still in its infancy level.

“Our target is to  reduce the use of  fuel-wood for cooking by promoting the use of energy-efficient cook stoves.” said Mr. Virgilio F. Guterres, the Director General for Electricity “I am sure that UNDP-GEF supported Biomass project will play a major role in promoting sustainable biomass energy solutions in Timor-Leste, particularly Improved Cook Stoves.”

UNDP-GEF supported Biomass project is working with the Ministry of Public Works, the State Secretary of Electricity to promote technologically proven and environment friendly solutions to reduce greenhouse emissions through utilization of biomass resources in Timor-Leste. The application of biomass energy technologies will also support local economic, environmental and social development.

“The use of improved cook stoves is very important to save people’s lives and the environment. If we globally reach the target of 100 million households using improved cook stoves by 2020, billions of trees and thousands of lives will be saved.” Said Claudio Providas, UNDP Country Director “We are happy to work with the government and other partners to promote the use of improved cook stoves in Timor-Leste.”

Challenges in promoting ICS in Timor-Leste includes very low level of mass awareness of indoor air pollution (IAP) related diseases, low level of knowledge on benefits of ICS, very high inclination towards traditional use of smoke and open fire cooking, lack of technical knowledge on alternate technologies, lack of suitable market mechanisms and lack of sustainable financing.

However, there are great prospects to improve the use of improved cook stoves in Timor-Leste. The GoTL strategic plan also emphasizes of use of ICS and other renewable energy technologies including biomass technologies to create a sustainable and secure energy mix by 2030 and to halt the very high rate of deforestation.

UNDP is working with various organizations to increase the ICS use by 20,000 households in targeted municipalities. In the first phase, UNDP provided small grant to MercyCorps to initiate the necessary baseline assessments including the behavioral communication aspects of using ICS in targeted municipalities – Dili, Ermera and Manatuto. In 2016, UNDP will also focus on creating a market based delivery mechanism through engaging 25 local entrepreneur. Moreover, a subsidy mechanism will be devised for 1500 ultra-poor households who are unable to purchase an ICS based on market mechanisms. UNDP will also focus on creating mass awareness through mass media campaign on the benefits of using ICS. 

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