An Overview Of Our Solution
In rural Brazil, over 8 million homes still cook over smoky, open-air fires, causing household air pollution, forest degradation and climate change. Perene is a local NGO that has substituted 9,000 open-air stoves with efficient, durable cookstoves across hundreds of villages. Benefits include cleaner indoor air, safer kitchens and less time spent on collecting fuel. Rural women report improved self-esteem and status relative to urban folks, as they too become free of the stigma and discomfort of clothes, hair and skin that smell of smoke. Local forests and the global climate benefit too, as our improved cookstoves reduce wood use and greenhouse gas emissions. Through an award-winning monitoring program, Perene continuously tracks user-satisfaction and cookstove performance. Independent auditing is performed annually by the Gold Standard Foundation.
- Population Impacted 30,000 people
- Continent: South America
The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 3 billion people still depend on solid fuels for cooking, and there is extensive scientific evidence linking different negative health impacts to the long term exposure to the smoke produced by open air stoves. The state of Bahia alone has a rural population of approximately 5 million people, and the use of solid biomass for cooking is habitual in most homes. In our region specifically, firewood is being collected from the few remaining fragments of the Atlantic Rainforest, one of the world´s biodiversity hotspots at risk. The continuous removal of forest biomass results in edge effect, cuts connectivity between fragments, and adds to the ecological degradation of these precious forest remnants. To complicate things even further, many firewood users are driven by need to collect solid forest biomass from others´ private properties, creating legal conflicts and even safety issues for this vulnerable population.
Describe the technical solution you wanted the target audience to adopt
Instituto Perene´s stove design is based on the efficiency principles of Aprovecho Research Center (Bryden, Still, Scott, & Hoffa, 2002). The cookstove model was adapted for regional practices and materials with the participation of local masons, cooks and community leaders. The technology to be employed uses locally available materials and labor. It is constructed using regular and refractory bricks, regular and refractory mortar, a metal plate with 2 openings, a rocket-elbow combustion chamber, autoclaved aerated concrete for insulation, and a ceramic chimney. The improved cookstoves designed for this project have double the efficiency of the baseline stove, therefore delivering the same amount of cooking energy to the pot with a lower amount of fuel. The reduction in fuelwood burned in turn reduces the amount of anthropogenic GHG emissions generated.
Type of intervention
Describe your behavioral intervention
Acording to Gioda, A, Tonietto, G, de Leon, AP, firewood is the second most used fuel for cooking in Brazil, being used by a significant portion of the population, around 30 million Brazilians. Families in the project´s region have been cooking with open air wood stoves for many generations, these are some of Brazil´s oldest European settlement areas dating back to the 1500s. The quantity of solid biomass needed to achieve the temperature for cooking has certainly been historically high given the low efficiency of open air stoves. Not only the amount of wood used for cooking has been unnecessarily high, but also the larger logs from branches and main stems have been preferred over the thinner pieces found around the forest´s litter and detritus. As we substitute the open air stove with our more efficient model there is an immediate need to reduce the size of the logs used, as well as a more active tending of the fire. The adaptation to the new technology is very intuitive, but we have learned over the years that accelerating the adaptation to the new stove will result in better maintained and cleaner stoves in the long run. Our monitoring surveys present evidence of adoption rates greater than 90% by the end of year 2, and not less than 50% by the end of year 8. Our robust and fully appropriate technology is a world success case in terms of adoption rate, mostly due to the full local ownership in all phases of the project and the long term commitment from Instituto Perene.
As needed, please explain the type of intervention in more detail
Funding for building cookstoves has been through up-front sale of carbon credits. To date, 45,000 tons of verified emissions reductions (VERs) have been issued, with a total of 200,000 VERs to be delivered by 2028. Steps of the carbon-finance project include: local stakeholder engagement, non-renewable biomass assessment, cookstove efficiency testing, quantification of emissions reductions and monitoring of social and environmental impacts. Individual carbon-release contracts are signed by each participant, and each stove is uniquely identified by GPS location.
Describe your implementation
The first phase of our implementation is the stakeholder presentation meetings, followed by a set of smaller focal group gatherings. All families interested will also be visited individually to finalize the engagement process. All stove components are delivered by the project to each household, including the metal griddle, ceramic chimneys, refractory bricks, and aerated concrete. Families contribute with a 6 kg cement bag, a wheelbarrow of sand, and 20 light-clay bricks. Our building teams of two people build an average of two and a half stoves a day, Monday through Friday. After building, maintenance and training sessions take place with community meetings and individual visits. Also, every year 10% of all households are randomly selected and visited for use and satisfaction surveys over the 10 year period. Our main success factor is the participation of local people in all steps of the project, from the definition of the local stove model, to the sales of inputs, material’s transportation, labor, and monitoring agents. Other success factors include the highly visible increase in stove quality, the easy adaptation into the new technology, and the active and reliable presence of Instituto Perene during the full project´s lifetime. An obstacle we face is the skepticism in some communities regarding bad past experiences with other projects. Instituto Perene identifies local women who are leaders in these communities and offer to build the stoves in their homes, and if they don’t like, we remove and compensate. Once the stove is operating the benefits become evident immediately, and these local leaders become organizers for our town meetings. A second obstacle is the change in behavior from the use of unnecessary biomass. The new technology presents a combustion chamber with a small opening for logs, forcing users to use thin and small pieces. Tending for the fire is modified, and users must adapt. Our training sessions have proven to be fundamental for our success.
Back in 2007 when Instituto Perene started to work with clean cookstoves we received support from CARE International and The Nature Conservancy in the form of non-reimbursable funds for the development of a local prototype. So far two of Brazil´s most important private organizations have supported our initiative, Natura Cosmetics and Itaú Bank. These organizations have trusted Instituto Perene as a provider of reliable carbon offsets, and have supported the need for initial investments in personnel and equipment. Today, besides the valuable backing from Natura and Itaú, Perene also counts on the formal support and partnership of seven local associations and cooperatives of rural workers. Instituto Perene also received a letter of support from Brazil´s Ministry of the Environment recognizing the value of our initiative and the alignment with federal policies aimed at reducing the impact to the Atlantic Rainforest biome and the benefits to local communities. The Gold Standard Foundation is the institution that validates our project design, and later verifies that the projects follows the appropriate carbon accounting methodology. Perene also has a technical cooperation agreement with the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro to develop together scientific research and publications. Finally, our initiative is linked to UNDP´s Sustainable Development Goal of the 2030 Agenda, as we were the first organization in Brazil to be validated to formally account SDGs.
Who adopted the desired behaviors and to what degree?
To date, 9,000 efficient cookstoves distributed, over 9,000 participating families, improved quality of life for 30,000 people, empowerment of over 8,000 women (90% of cooks are female), increased time and effort available for livelihood and family-related activities due to less demand for firewood, local masons trained in stove construction, local machine shops capable of new manufacture techniques to supply stove parts and local women empowered to act as Community Agents. Perene’s is the first carbon-financed cookstove project in Brazil. It was independently selected in 2014 as the project with the greatest number of co-benefits among all carbon projects operating in Brazil, under the following indicators: financial benefits for local communities, generation of direct local jobs, labor conditions, shared technology development, and the quality of relations with stakeholders.
How did you impact natural resource use and greenhouse gas emissions?
The Carbon impacts are 200,000 tCO2e verified carbon credits over project lifetime. Methodology: Gold Standard Simplified Methodology for Efficient Cookstoves, v1.0 (2013).
The local environmental benefits: 115,000 tons of wood saved, protection of Atlantic Rainforest and its biodiversity, soil and water quality, reduced air pollution. The project will also result in increased local awareness of environmental problems and empower individuals to improve their own lives while protecting flora, fauna, soil and water health, as well as global climate stability.
What were some of the resulting co-benefits?
Instituto Perene´s projects directly result in the reduction of poverty in the Brazilian Northeast, through the provision of new technologies, services, and training of the rural population. The participants in our projects are members of quilombola and traditional communities – shellfish, fishermen, family farmers, palm oil and cassava flour producers. Efficient stove adoption reduces household air pollution by improving family health and home hygiene. Instituto Perene collects qualitative data through 1,000+ household interviews/year, and is currently seeking partners to implement the innovative ADALY (Avoided Disability-Adjusted Life Years) methodology, correlating the quantitative reduction of particulate matter in the household air environment with reduction of cardiovascular diseases.Women lead the actions of Instituto Perene, from management to end-users, participating in all stages of planning, engagement, implementation and monitoring.
Our initiative has been fully funded by the sales of certified carbon credits, through an innovative and sophisticated purchasing agreement between Instituto Perene and private sector organizations interested in offsetting their carbon footprint. Instituto Perene receives part of the funding upfront to cover all costs associated with the construction phase and initial monitoring, and the remaining funding for the full 10 year period is tied to the delivery of certified credits. Perene offers carbon credits that bring along co-benefits in terms of women´s empowerment, rainforest conservation and health improvement, as we differentiate our initiative from other carbon projects competing for the same funding source.
Return on investment
Our operation is a not-for-profit endeavor. We work as a for profit in the sense that we are tied contractually to very tangible results, but at the end of every cycle any surplus from our operations are reinvested in the project. Our foremost financial strength has been the capacity to market the carbon credits at a price and payment conditions favorable to our operation methods, allowing for our sustainability and independence from other external sources of funding. The total cost of our operations is 2 million USD to date. The funders of our projects are very satisfied with the return on their investment. Natura calculated our cookstove projects to have the highest return on investment of their portfolio, at 370 USD/tCO2 in co-benefits.
How could we successfully replicate this solution elsewhere?
In our region alone there are thousands of households that could be benefiting from this technology, and Instituto Perene already has the structure in place to expand our operations. If we take the state of Bahia, there are millions of households in need. Instituto Perene is ready to promote this technology through training and partnerships with other NGOs. More than the stove model itself, which should always be locally developed, our project can serve as a model for other organizations in Latin America, Asia, Africa and India on how to integrate stakeholder engagement, excellence in technical details and long term commitment to ensure families are able to reduce the solid biomass needed to cook and eliminate smoke from their homes.