Reducing indoor smoke in Nepal

In rural areas across Nepal, traditional stoves are common. Simple three-stone stoves cook food for the family and heat the home during the cold winter months – but they also fill the home with thick black smoke.

This smoke fills the lungs of the whole family, causing them to cough and their eyes to stream – and potentially causing serious or fatal illnesses such as stroke, heart disease and cancer. But there is a solution. An improved stove with smoke-hood will improve the health of families across Nepal.

What we’re doing to help

Objective: Improving the health and livelihoods of women and their families by providing access to fuel-efficient stoves and smoke hoods, 

Project name: Result-Based Financing for Sustainable Hood-Stove Market
Location: Gorkha, Dhading, Makwanpur, Rasuwa and Nuwakot districts, Nepal
Project date: June 2014 - July 2018

Number of beneficiaries: 180,000 people (36,000 households)
Partners: GORETO in Gorkha; Multi-Dimensional Resource Centre (MRC-Nepal) in Makwanpur; Indoor Smoke Alleviation and Environment Protection Forum Nepal ( ISAEPF-Nepal) in Rasuwa; and Forum for Community Upliftment System (FOCUS Nepal) in Dhading.


project location

This project will help families get a complete package of a specifically designed smoke-hood and improved stove running off locally-available ‘biomass’ – firewood, crop residue or animal dung.

The improved stoves use the smoke-hoods to draw smoke up and away from the home, reducing indoor smoke by 80%.

As well as improving the health of all the family, the stoves use less fuel. They’re cheaper to run, but they can also give women their time back. When they no longer have to to spend time searching for wood and carrying heavy loads back home, women can learn new skills, spend good quality time with their children and earn an income.

Indoor air pollution is a huge problem, but it needn’t be. This project will help many people and make sure they no longer have to risk the health of their family just to cook a meal.

Findings from a new study into the effects of improved stoves in Malawi suggest that improved stoves do not reduce occurrences of pneumonia in children under 5, as the World Health Organisation and others assert. Read a response from Dr Lucy Stevens, our energy access and clean cooking policy lead, including how this new study relates to our on-going work to stop the #killerinthekitchen.

Look how far your money can go

The doctor used to tell us not to sit in front of the fire because of the smoke, but we had no choice. Now with the smokehood it is clear, I can see things. The smoke doesn’t spread over the room. It uses less firewood and we can dry meat easily. – Lal Singh Bal, Nepal


Smoke-hoods change lives

Sarasworti and her husband have an improved stove and smokehood installed in their home. They now longer have to worry about the family's health, and Sarasworti has more time freed from collecting firewood to spend time with her children.

Find out more

In the first few days of her baby’s life, Kumari had to watch helplessly as he couldn’t stop coughing. The traditional stove in her home had been silently filling Rajan’s lungs with deadly smoke.

Find out more

Bimari cooks all the meals for her family on a simple three stone stove. But this stove was filling their home with toxic smoke – so she has been forced to cook outside all year round, in the rain and freezing temperatures.

Find out more

46-year-old widow Laxmi is desperate to get a smokehood when she can fix her house, which was damaged in the 2015 earthquake. “I suffer from asthma, so I moved the stove outside, but because of the monsoon I had to move back in.”

Find out more

Pashupati has to walk three hours to collect wood, and it takes her two hours to cook each meal. "The smoke is the worst thing. I do worry about my eyes but I need to cook for my family, what else can I do?”

Find out more

Saraswoti’s house was devastated in the 2015 earthquake and her family lived in a tent for four months. But their house has been rebuilt with an improved stove and smokehood and it has transformed their lives.

Find out more

Review of results based financing for energy access

Update from this project on page 24


People have been cooking and heating their homes in the traditional way in Nepal for centuries, so some people are resistant to change, not believing that smoke is to blame for their health problems. We will be educating people about the dangers of indoor air pollution and why a smokehood and improved cook stove is so important.

We are working mainly with poor families in rural Nepal. With the availability of subsidies and low-interest micro-loans through local cooperatives, even the very poor households will be able to access the technology.

It's important to create a long-term, sustainable and viable industry and market that can supply life-transforming smokehoods and clean stoves long after the project finishes. This industry cannot start on its own, so this project provides the capital upfront, subsidises and underwrites loans, and provides training. It also empowers communities that have never previously had formal access to financial institutions.

We also recognise that Practical Action cannot change the situation on its own. Instead projects like this demonstrate to local governments and other international institutions what solutions work and what challenges they are likely to face, to help bring about long-term change.

Projected impact

  • Household air pollution reduced by more than 80%
  • Improved respiratory and eye health of beneficiaries, mainly of women and children
  • 50% reduction in firewood consumption compared with traditional stoves
  • Time and money saved collecting or purchasing fuel wood is available to invest in personal development, education and earning an income – an average of 360 hours per year per family
  • The empowerment of women through female-led cooperatives and cook-stove enterprises, and an increased involvement in cook-stove markets

    Read more about this project

Indoor air pollution

Nearly four million people die each year as a result of inhaling lethal smoke from kitchen stoves and fires

Find out more

The traditional stoves used in Nepal are simple structures made from clay, with stone or metal tripods. These stoves are very inefficient because they have poor air flow and insulation, and as a result they consume a lot of fuel and produce high levels of indoor air pollution.

A combined improved stove with smoke hood tackles both of these problems in one design.

The sheet metal smoke hood sits over the fire, drawing smoke straight out through the roof.

As well as the health benefits of significantly cleaner air, a fire beneath a smoke hood burns more efficiently, so less fuel needs to be collected - typically 40% less.

As local conditions and available materials vary, we work with communities to determine the best design of smoke hood for their needs. Our Healthy Hoods toolkit, based on our experience in this field, can help other agencies to make similar choices.

Find out more

Download clear, practical information on clean cook stoves from our technical information service, Practical Answers

Chimney stoves and smoke hoods

This technical brief looks at ways to reduce the pollution by using chimney stoves and smoke hoods to let the smoky air escape outdoors

Find out more

Inventory of innovation: indoor air pollution alleviating technologies in Nepal

A comprehensive overview of the options for healthy homes that have been tried in Nepal, to aid decision-making on appropriate choices of technology

Find out more

Other technologies that can improve fuel efficiency and reduce air pollution

We have found throughout our work that one size doesn’t fit all, so we offer different solutions depending on local conditions.

In Darfur in western Sudan we have a similar financial model to Nepal, but use it to encourage people to swap traditional open fires for gas fires (because there is a large and cheap supply of liquid petroleum gas, a by-product of the oil industry in the region).

In Peru we have worked to improve the demand for portable stoves, and in East Africa, we have tended to focus on improved biomass stoves.

Read more about these technologies and how they can improve lives and livelihoods:

Improved cooking stoves

Improved cook stoves use one third of the amount of firewood as a traditional fire, reducing household smoke levels.

Read more

Low-smoke LPG stoves

Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) stoves are benefiting thousands of families in western Sudan who now have a clean kitchens, clean lungs and more money.

Read more


Biogas from animal waste provides a free, sustainable source of power all year round, and a useful fertiliser for farmers

Read more

Fireless cooker

The "fireless cooker" uses stored heat to cook food over a long period of time. A simple basket, insulated with banana leaves or old clothes, can reduce fuel use by 40%.

Read more

Smoke hoods

Sheet metal smoke hoods are cost effective and efficient, reducing indoor smoke levels by up to 80%.

Read more

Similar projects

no comments