Village Progress aims to combat environmental problems present in Lincang’s villages by equipping village families with super-efficient wood-burning stoves and solar cooking umbrellas. The Sustainable Village Cooking Project aims to curb deforestation, pollution and improve health conditions for families accustomed to cooking indoors.
In most of Yunnan’s rural villages, cooking is done indoors, with little ventilation, on wood-fired coals. Over time, this has resulted in mass deforestation, forcing local governments to ban cutting down trees for cooking. However, these laws are difficult to enforce as villagers have no other reasonable methods to cook or boil water. Indoor cooking in Yunnan’s countryside has also had severe health consequences. Many illnesses prevalent in villages, especially those related to respiratory and heart disease, are attributed to indoor emissions from wood-fired cooking. The Sustainable Village Cooking Project aims to curb deforestation and emissions while combating respiratory and heart diseases by equipping village families with super-efficient wood-burning stoves for cooking and solar cooking umbrellas for heating water. In test runs with the super-efficient stove in Bangdong Village, families have claimed that they use half as much wood as before yet cooking is more efficient than ever. In fact, though many families make less than 2000 RMB per year, they claim that they would be willing to invest a portion of the stoves cost to have one in their home. The stoves consume only 50% as much wood and produce only 25% of the emissions that normal fire pits produce. Moreover, since more than half of cooking in village homes is to boil water, the addition of solar cooking umbrellas for heating water could cut wood consumption by an additional 50%. This, in turn, cuts emissions to 12.5% of what they are now. The ultimate goal is to convince both local governments and village families that investing in environmentally efficient cooking systems will both save villages money and offer a healthier, more sustainable future.