Ganesha Cookstove Project

Fixing the Cookstove Problem

Fixing the Cookstove Problem

No one in the NGO world gets what low-income women need and want in cookstoves. Anyone who has sold more than 100,000 has been subsidized by a foundation. Low-income women have money. They could buy the stoves. They don’t.
— staff member of the Office of Social Innovation in the Obama Administration

What We've Learned

Grandmothers - our best critics.

Grandmothers - our best critics.

We think we know what low-income women want in a cookstove. It's what most people want from their primary cooking device: they want great performance, ease of use, and inexpensive operation. They want it to burn anything, burn hot and then cool down to a simmer. And they want it to use wood (or dung, or crop waste) that is freely available. And most critically, the stove must be worth the price they pay for it.  

We've also learned that humanitarian aid agencies want a stove that packs flat for storage and pre-positioning. The packaged size of the Ganesha stove is just 25% that of other improved stoves, and it weighs just 6 pounds (2.6 kg). That makes it easy to get Ganesha stoves to disaster areas in times of need.

We aren't done learning. That's why we are doing pilot projects across Nepal, tracking usability and performance in 8 different communities. 

User spotlight: the story of Bhagirathi


Mrs. Bhagirathi Timilsina, 45 years old, has to do all sorts of household chores — cooking, cleaning, rearing cows and goats, and farming too. She recently was elected as a member of the Bethanchowk rural municipality, adding to her responsibilities.

She was introduced to the Ganesha stove during a participant selection event for a pilot project. She was interested in using the stove but was skeptical at first. “Stove looks good, but it looks small and I doubt if it can cook for my 4 members of the family.” She explained that she is used to cooking on an open fire. 

Three weeks after handing over the stove, the survey team returned to interview her to collect  feedback. She exclaimed, “I had been using LPG the most to save time, but now I use the Ganesha stove more than LPG!” 

“The stove performed better than I expected,” she smiled. “I cooked dal, vegetables and boiled water for my 4 family members. The milk boiled on this stove is tastier too.” She proudly announced, “I am also making best use of the corn cobs now.”

“This morning I made selroti” (selroti is a doughnut shaped fried roti). “Would you like to test them?” She smiled, quickly went in and brought some selroti and milk and offered to surveyors. Coincidentally, it happened to be a special day. There was a function in the house – the engagement of Bhagirathi’s daughter. She was seen  proudly showing and explaining to the visitors the Ganesha stove when the surveyors left the house.