As a Kopernik fellow, I was based in Chattarpur (Madhya Pradesh) and Delhi to conduct rapid impact assessment of the Smarter Cooking for Indian Women project and to do some other assignments. One day, I was told that the new stove project has become fully funded so I flew to Mumbai to meet a new partner NGO, Rural Communes (RC), who consequently will receive 200 unitst of Greenway Smart Stoves. At the time of my visit, the 200 units have not yet arrived but did soon after I left to return to Delhi.
RC is a large NGO based in Maharashtra States. They cover 13 out of 26 districts within the state. Though their headquarter is located in the largest city in India, Mumbai, they have a big office in a village between Mumbai and Pune, where they also own residential spaces and huge agricultural spaces for those who receive various trainings from RC.
RC office and Centre for Experimental Learning at Narangi village
RC has been working for wide range of development areas, such as comprehensive watershed development, sustainable agriculture and sustainable rural livelihood for 35 years. Also, to benefit other NGOs, Community Based Organizations, youth, women, farmers and traditional healers in the area, they hold various training courses in their center such as “Village Level Workers Training”, “Youth Leadership”, and “Skills for Conservation & Sustainable Utilisation of Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge and Agriculture”.
Vaishali, who is a member of senior management team at RC was kind enough to welcome me and accompany me to field visits throughout my stay in Maharashtra. He explained that RC has previously worked with Greenway Grameen Infra, the company behind Greenway Smart Stoves, in piloting several stoves. Because of the effectiveness of the stove, RC then submitted a project proposal to Kopernik as per Greenway Grameen Infra's recommendation to receive funding for a larger scale stove project. RC is keen on delivering more improved cookstoves to the area with the intention to reduce the dependency on wood and subsequently reduce the amount of fuel consumption by villagers.
To get a sense of what the future beneficiaries of the Greenway Smart Stove are like, we visited Kholanda village, which is located approximately 80km from center of Mumbai. The village has approximately 150 households. Women work as housekeepers in other cities and men work as farmers and daily laborers.
We visited a household that received the Greenway Smart Stove about four months prior as part of the pilot project conducted by RC and Greenway Grameen Infra. The wife told us that she is very happy to have received the stove because it is easier to prepare meals, requires less firewood and emits noticeably less smoke. This is the same stove that Kopernik and RC will distribute 200 more of in the area.
After drinking tea and chatting with the family and their neighbors, a woman showed us around her “forest home garden”, where her family cultivates various vegetables, fruits and medicinal plants thanks to the training conducted by RC. It was RC’s idea that each household grows vegetables on their own and expands their garden little by little, so that they gradually become self-sustainable and are also able to sell extra crops in the market to generate income.
I then visited another village and also had the chance to talk with a Greenway Grameen Infra staff during my stay in Mumbai. I will write about this in the next blog post.