Some 22,000 households in Mandalay Region are using fuel-efficient stoves as part of a government effort to reduce the use of firewood and the resulting destruction of forests and mangroves, according to the Mandalay Forestry Department.
U Tint Swe, director of the department, said the stove campaign is aimed at addressing the energy shortage in rural areas of the country, such as Ayeyarwady Region and Rakhine State.
“The approach aims to be community-based, market-driven and involve key government agencies. In Mandalay, the stove campaign was first launched in Pyawbwe township before being extended to 10 other townships. Ten townships were also added in Magwe Region,” he said.
The campaign, which is being implemented by the non-governmental organisation Mercy Corps and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, will continue until 2021.
“Myanmar has the third highest rate of deforestation in the world, of which firewood use is one cause,” said U Myo Thit, another department official.
He said 82.6 percent of rural households and 25.6pc of urban households rely on firewood, which adds up to 2.5 tonnes and 1.4 tonnes a day, respectively.
U Myo Thit said Myanmar’s Forest Research Institute developed the Improved Cook Stove programme in 1986 to address the problem. The fuel-efficient stove not only saves fuel and reduces indoor air pollution but reduces firewood consumption by as much as 40pc.
Daw Win Kyaing, 50, a sales agent for the stove in Kyaung Kon village of Madaya township, said she has sold 40 clean stoves and has 20 more orders.
“The village head asked me to work as a sales agent. I buy the stove for K13,500 (US$8.52) and sell it for K17,000,” she said.
As part of its marketing strategy, Mercy Corps and the ministry helps identify villages that could benefit from the stove and conducts awareness campaigns about the importance of fuel-efficient cooking.