Fuel-efficient stove distribution to protect women and the environment

Fuel-efficient stove distribution to protect women and the environment

$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Assault during firewood collection is a continuous threat faced by displaced women in Darfur. The Darfur Stoves Project seeks to improve the safety of women by providing fuel-efficient stoves that require less than half as much fuel than traditional cooking methods, thus reducing firewood requirements, thereby limiting exposure to unsafe areas.

About You
Technology Innovations for Sustainable Societies (TISS)
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Section 1: About You
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Section 2: About Your Organization
Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


Organization Name

Technology Innovations for Sustainable Societies (TISS)

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Organization Address

2150 Allston Way, Suite 310, Berkeley, CA 94704

Organization Country
How long has this organization been operating?

1‐5 years

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Your idea
Country your work focuses on


What makes your idea unique?

The Berkeley-Darfur Stove was designed in collaboration with women living in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Darfur. This collaborative approach has provided these women with a sense of ownership and has also helped to ensure that the stove design met key requirements such as accommodation of the pot style typically used in this region and protection from extreme windy and sandy conditions, while minimizing wood requirements. The Darfur Stove Project (DSP) designers took a modular design approach however, which allows possible customization for future distribution to other areas.

DSP uses a “train-the-trainer” approach to stove assembly, distribution, training, and marketing and invests considerable resources to build the capacity of our local partners. Our partners in turn engage in knowledge transfer to local staff, with a focus on displaced women. Knowledge transfer is monitored through DSP’s monitoring and evaluation processes to ensure successful and continuous training. Our goal is to gradually transition responsibility and ownership to local women. DSP also works closely with IDP camp community leaders to build awareness and increase buy-in.

To diversify DSP’s financial sources and replicate our successful model with our partners in other areas, such as Ethiopia and Haiti, DSP has begun a carbon credit financing pilot program through a partnership with World Vision in Ethiopia. This initiative takes advantage of the growing market for global warming emission offsetting by working with industry partners to offset their carbon footprint through the purchase of carbon credits. DSP is continually searching for long-term financing options that both enhance our financial sustainability as well as have positive environmental impacts.

Do you have a patent for this idea?


Tell us about the social impact of your innovation. Please include both numbers and stories as evidence of this impact

The Darfur Stoves Project has helped to improve the safety of displaced women and girls in IDP camps, and when completely launched, will help to curtail the deforestation process and release of CO2 emissions in Darfur.

Collecting firewood for stove fuel is the primary reason displaced women and girls in IDP camps leave the relative safety of the IDP camps. These women and girls often face violent conditions during their long searches for firewood. Extensive deforestation has exacerbated the risk of violence as women are being forced to walk farther and more often in search of firewood.

Through our analysis and assessment of international aid organization reports, it is estimated that the average IDP camp family uses traditional three stone fire cooking methods, which require 1.8 tons of firewood for cooking each year, emitting 3 tons of CO2 equivalent per year. Through the use of the Berkeley-Darfur Stove, families are able to drastically reduce their firewood use thus saving 1.3 tons of firewood over the course of a year. Likewise, the average household will be able to reduce emissions by more than 2 tons of CO2 equivalent per year. With an anticipated 14,000 stoves in use by the end 2010, Berkeley-Darfur Stoves aims to reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 28,000 tons annually. We estimate that approximately 300,000 families are in need of a fuel efficient stove and our goal is to distribute a Berkeley-Darfur Stove to each family.

Problem: Describe the primary problem(s) that your innovation is addressing

Conflict in Darfur has claimed the lives of at least 300,000 people and created more than two million displaced persons within the region, many of whom live in large IDP camps throughout Darfur.

Families in IDP camps receive food aid and cooking oil from a variety of humanitarian aid organizations, however, families are still responsible for gathering firewood as fuel for cooking. Due to the size of the IDP camps and the desert-like terrain, wood is a scarce resource. Today, displaced women in the IDP camps must walk up to seven hours to find a single tree. With a lack of reforestation, women are continually walking farther from the relative safety of the camps.

To avoid unsafe conditions, some women purchase wood from middlemen; however, as payment for the firewood, families are often forced to sell food rations.

Actions: Describe the steps that you are taking to make your innovation a success. What might prevent that success?

DSP has focused on four key elements to ensure timely distribution and successful adoption of the Berkeley-Darfur Stove: user-centered design, a cost-efficient manufacturing and supply chain strategy, close partnership with local organizations, and a monitoring and evaluation program.

The Berkeley-Darfur Stove was designed in collaboration with displaced women in Darfur. This collaborative approach has provided these women with a sense of ownership and has helped to ensure that the stove design met key requirements required for use in the region.

Our manufacturing and supply chain strategy utilizes an Ikea “flat-kit” approach. We have chosen to manufacture our flat-kits in India due to the mature infrastructure, political stability, and relative close proximity to Sudan. This approach allows us to delay the stove assembly to a stage that is closest to the user, thus allowing us to ramp up production as the need increases yet maintain low stove inventory levels. The unit cost of producing the flat-kits and shipping them to Port Sudan is approximately $13.60.

To mitigate operational risks due to Sudan’s political environment and history of expelling non-profits and advocacy groups, we have focused on collaborating with international development organizations and local NGOs, namely Oxfam America and Sustainable Action Group, that have experience and established networks in Sudan.

Operations are monitored via DSP’s monitoring and evaluation program. Our program includes periodic independent audits by DSP staff. Our monitoring and evaluation program also assesses stove usage for design quality feedback as well as analysis to understand the overall impact on personal safety and food security.

Results: Describe the expected results of these actions over the next three years. Please address each year separately, if possible

The Berkeley-Darfur Stove was designed in collaboration with displaced women in the IDP camps. Prior to distributing the stove in mass however, the DSP team conducted a final field test. Fifty women from IDP camps were selected to receive a free prototype Berkeley-Darfur Stove for use over a period of one month. At the test’s end, women were then offered to keep the stove for a nominal fee of $5. At the end of the trial period, all women enthusiastically chose to purchase the stove. This test allowed the DSP team to conduct a final analysis of the design, but more importantly, DSP was able to confirm that the new stove was valuable to the women and met the key objective that the project set out to achieve: improve women’s safety by significantly reducing the time spent outside the IDP camp in search of firewood.

With our partners, Oxfam America and the Sustainable Action Group (SAG), a Sudanese NGO, in December 2009-January 2010 DSP manufactured and distributed 1000 Berkeley-Darfur Stoves in IDP camps, which allowed us to test and refine the manufacturing, assembly, and distributions processes as well as strengthen our relationship with local community camp leaders, which we feel is a critical component to stove distribution and adoption. Our plan is to manufacture, assemble and distribute an additional 8,000 stoves by the fall of 2010. DSP’s goal for 2011 is to manufacture and distribute 12,000 stoves. We estimate that more than 300,000 families in IDP camps are in need of a stove. Our objective is to create additional assembly and distribution centers, replicating the current model, and distribute stoves to hundreds of thousands of Darfuri families.

Together with our partners and with the support of the camp community leaders, we are developing awareness building and social marketing campaigns. Campaigns are staffed by key community leaders who already use a Berkeley-Darfur Stove. Awareness building will be continued throughout the stove distribution phase.

To understand the impact of the stove on safety and food security, we will continue our monitoring and evaluation during the distribution phase and 1 year after stove distribution has been completed. A continuous monitoring approach allows us to be adaptive to needs and environmental changes.

How many people will your project serve annually?

More than 10,000

What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

Less than $50

Does your innovation seek to have an impact on public policy?


If your innovation seeks to impact public policy, how?

Approximately 150 words left (1200 characters).

What stage is your project in?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Does your organization have a board of directors or an advisory board?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have a non monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how partnerships could be critical to the success of your innovation

Our partnerships with both international NGOs and national professional organizations are critical to our program’s success. Our partnerships with professional private sector organizations in the United States allow us to develop strong strategic development plans for our organization as we register for our 501c(3) status and build our institutional structure. Oxfam America.manages the project in the field, and helped us to identify a stove distribution partner in Darfur the Sudanese NGO, Sustainable Action Group (SAG). Our partnership with Oxfam America and SAG has resulted in a stove assembly center in El Fasher, Sudan. Our partnership with SAG has also allowed us to provide employment opportunities for displaced persons who work in the assembly shop.

We would like to learn more about how your initiative is financially supported. Please explain your business plan/revenue model

DSP has a yearly budget comprised of funding primarily received from institutional supporters and the general public. At present, 60% of our funding comes from The Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley, the Sustainable Products and Solutions Program (developed by a grant from Dow Chemicals to UC Berkeley for sustainable product research and development) and grant money awarded to DSP founder and Senior Researcher, Dr. Ashok Gadgil. The remaining 40% is raised through fundraising campaigns and donations received through online marketing. DSP is currently searching for grants to supplement funding for the next fiscal year.

DSP has a number of initiatives underway to help diversify financial sources. For example, DSP has implemented a pilot program in Ethiopia in partnership with World Vision Australia that uses carbon credits for stove funding. We are assessing the possibility of expanding this initiative to provide long-term financial support for our Sudanese operations.

DSP’s partners plan to charge a small amount, when feasible, to stove recipients (the 1,000 recently distributed were given for free as a beta test). The fees are used as a deterrent to sell the stove for scrap metal and to offset local operational costs.

DSP maintains low overhead costs by relying on a team of volunteer specialists to supplement the permanent staff.

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

In 2004 Dr. Ashok Gadgil, Faculty Senior Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, received a phone call from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance at the United States Agency for International Development (OFDA/USAID). The OFDA representative explained to Dr. Gadgil that displaced women in the Darfur IDP camps faced unsafe conditions when leaving their camps in search of firewood.

In 2005 Dr. Gadgil led a four person fact-finding team to Darfur. After interviewing numerous Sudanese families and assessing local conditions, the team concluded that providing a fuel-efficient stove would have a significant impact on reducing exposure to violence. After conducting fuel-efficient stove testing and analysis Dr. Gadgil and his team determined that the Tara Stove, originally made in India, was the most appropriate for the environment in Darfur and quickly began modifying the Tara Stove to suit the environment of Darfur and the regional cooking style.

Through DSP’s monitoring and evaluation program, the Berkeley-Darfur Stove is periodically updated with quality and usability feedback as environmental and fuel availability conditions change.

Tell us about the person—the social innovator—behind this idea.

Dr. Ashok Gadgil is Senior Scientist and Acting Director in the Environmental Energy Technologies Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and also serves as an Adjunct Professor with the Energy and Resources Group at University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Gadgil has authored and co-authored more than 70 papers in refereed archival journals and more than 100 conference papers and has received many awards and honors for his work, including the Pew Fellowship in Conservation and the Environment in 1991 for his work on accelerating energy efficiency in developing countries, the World Technology Award for Energy in 2002, the Tech Award Health Laureate in 2004, and the Heinz award in 2009. Dr. Gadgil serves on several international and national advisory committees dealing with energy efficiency, invention and innovation, and issues of development and the environment. He is also a member of the STAP roster of experts of the Global Environmental Facility. In the 2004-5 academic year, Dr. Gadgil was the MAP/Ming Visiting Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Web Search (e.g., Google or Yahoo)

If through another source, please provide the information
Does your project address any of the following barriers to women’s technology access and use?

Women’s time poverty.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how.

The stove cooks meals substantially faster than the traditional three-stone fire, such that women in Darfur have named it “Kanun Khamsa Dagaig” or 5-minute stove. Women also save time collecting firewood as the stove uses less than half the amount of wood as a three-stone fire.

Does your project involve women in one or more of the following stages of the technology lifecycle? Identification of the problem the technology will solve:

Market research, Assessment and evaluation.

If you checked any of the boxes above, please explain how you will ensure women’s involvement in each relevant phase of the technology lifecycle.

Feedback from women is an essential part of the process of developing a stove that benefits users.

If women are a focus of your project, how did this focus evolve?

The project focused on women from its conception..

Which type of women will your project reach directly?


In what ways does your project team/leadership involve women?

It is led by a woman/women..

Has your organization formed any new partnerships in response to this challenge? If so, with what type/s of organization/s?

Non-profit/NGO/community-based organization.

Has your project leadership had prior experience with the following?

Working with women, Working with technologies, Working to increase women's economic empowerment through technology, Working on innovation.