Burning With Purpose: A Preliminary Assessment of the Ethanol-Fueled CleanCook Stove as a Potential Sustainable Cooking Alternative in the Village of Gaindikhatta, Uttarakhand, India

Jessie M. Pierce, Gettysburg College

Environmental Studies Honors Thesis

Faculty Advisor: Professor Monica Ogra

This work was also presented at the Student Sustainability Symposium at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, March 21, 2014.


There are many health-, gender-, and environment-related issues associated with the use of cookstoves that run on biomass (fuelwood, dried animal dung, charcoal, and other combustible raw materials), including indoor air pollution, a health liability, and black carbon, a climate-forcing agent. Despite these problems, approximately 3 billion households worldwide cook with biomass. Consequently, Project Gaia, Inc. (PGI), a Gettysburg, PA-based NGO, focuses on introducing clean-burning ethanol-fueled stoves into communities in developing countries. This study represents PGI’s first preliminary pilot study in the Indian village of Gaindikhatta, Uttarakhand. It seeks to identify potential implementation barriers and entry points for a PGI project in the village via an analysis of cultural acceptability of project technologies and community power relations. Several main implementation barriers are found, most relating to power discrepancies either at the community or household level: those in most need of a cookstove intervention (i.e. poor women) are also those with the least agency to achieve one. In order to turn such uneven power relations into entry points, a PGI project would have to be carefully designed to include all demographics and to increase social capital between groups. In this way, project barriers could be turned into opportunities.