Here’s a little known statistic: an estimated 4 million people die each year due to indoor air pollution from cooking. Top Third Ventures, a social impact company based in Kenya, seeks to confront that statistic head on with its Baker Stove, an energy efficient cooker that replaces traditional cooking methods used in developing countries and reduces smoke, pollution and the emission of global warming gases.
Many people in Africa use the same cooking technique of their ancestors, known as the three-stone method, where a fire built of wood is set amongst stones. It requires a lot of wood, and is inefficient with only 10% of the energy that comes from the wood heating the food, while the rest floats into the air as smoke. Lucas Belenky, founder and CEO of Top Third Ventures claims that people cooking with these stoves inhale as much smoke as if they were smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.
The solution, designed by Swedish studio Claesson Kolvisto Rune is a wood-burning stove that concentrates the heat more efficiently and reduces the amount of smoke. The designers wanted to continue to use the traditional fuel source that Africans are used to (wood) so as to be minimally intrusive on their lifestyle and encourage a sense of familiarity with the product. Top Third Ventures consulted with several locals, hosting cooking parties where they tried out the prototypes of the stoves to find what they would like, and what they would use.
The resulting Baker Stove reduces carbon emissions by 56% and requires a third less wood to be effective. The design is made from recycled aluminum and references classic African cookware. CKR said:
As designers we need to put the same effort into an African stove as were we designing an Italian sports car. The Baker stove project has inspired us not for the prospect of making money, not for the design itself, but for the extraordinary satisfaction of actually making a tangible, positive difference in many people’s lives and for the environment. And eventually, if the end users will come to tell us that they are proud to own this stove, our day is made.
Top Third Ventures is currently hosting an Indiegogo fundraising campaign to get their first 1,000 stoves to African families in need. Check out the video below.