Stove-watch in Bhalu Khola

2nd May 2016

Compared with the open fire method, the improved stove, or ‘chulo’ in Nepali, is more efficient, hosts a dual-hob and most importantly is smoke free, ensuring that harmful toxins are channelled outside of the kitchen. Although many people living in rural areas of Nepal utilise bio-gas from livestock manure and human waste, the majority of people still cook using wood; the demand for this resource was augmented during the recent trade embargo with India and so the improved stove’s efficient firewood to heat capture credentials are valued.

Sashi and I planned to build a trial stove in our host home (which Ama was thrilled about!), refine any parts that we felt could be enhanced and then teach local youth in the community how to make one. The intention being that they could then share the knowledge on, encouraging the idea of ‘gift economy’.

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The trial stove was a roaring success although as we were stacking clay, doughnut-shaped bricks for the chimney, we were convinced it was about to topple over owing to the weight; the leaning tower of Bhalu Khola, yes!

Following this, we headed to the ‘Kanchanthali’ settlement where the community is mainly made-up of members of the ‘Dalit’ community, a socially marginalised group of people, who are seen to be as part of the fourth, and lowest, caste. There we organised a training session on how to build the stove.

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The first day a team of 8 enthusiastic villagers helped to make the chimney pancakes. The next day, a group of 3 youths assembled the stove in a cramped corner of a wood and daub dwelling in the sweltering midday heat. Highlight of the day? Being fed papaya by one of the kids with a cocktail stick while my hands were caked in clay!

Since then 2 of our neighbours have built the improved stove in their homes and the word is out around the village: ‘Chulo…ramro cha! Mero gharr? The next stage of the project is to motivate the freshly taught mentors to pass the method on and show more people how it is made.

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Thanks must go to the producers of ‘The Farmer’s Handbook’, a guide for sustainable living in rural Nepal, for the design and method.

Written by UK Volunteer Philip Howes


Youth In Civil Society Nepal