Sri Lanka: 50,000 Fuel Efficient Stoves Change Lives Of IDPs In The North

Collecting firewood for cooking is not only a burdensome task for vulnerable women, it also has an adverse impact on the environment. Using fuel-efficient stoves is one way to combat this issue.  On a visit to one of the homes of former IDPs in the northern part of the country,  we witness how one little stove has entirely changed a family's quality of life.

Yogarasa Yogarani is a 41-year-old mother of three young children. Now resettled in Killinochchi, in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, Yogarasa smiles faintly, almost meditatively, and welcomes us to her home.

Perhaps she is remembering how life was a few years ago. Enduring multiple displacements and extreme turmoil during the country’s long conflict, Yogarasa never believed that she and her family would return to their original birthplace.

Yogarasa is a widow - her husband died during the conflict years. She now heads the household and is responsible for bringing up her children, feeding and clothing them, and sending them to school.

"Life can be difficult,” Yogarasa says, “but I am strong and I continue.”

She leads us to the small kitchen area. “You can see the stove over there, and the water boiling and bubbling.  I am preparing the lunch for my children.”

Wounded during an aerial attack, Yogarasa is unable to work. But Yogarasa doesn’t complain, and busies herself preparing rice and nimbly cutting up red onions, green peppers and chilies.                                                                                                                                  

We ask Yogarasa about the Anagi stove, distributed by the WFP, which she uses to cook meals for her family.

She beams broadly. “This is a miracle”, Yogarasa says. “I can prepare food very quickly on this stove. Fuel prices have gone up in the past months and I cannot afford to buy kerosene for cooking.”

“But this stove is such a blessing.  It is so easy to use and I don't have to use too much firewood, which I normally collect from the area around my home. I’m lucky,” Yogarasa declares.

“I do not have to worry about spending the little money I have for buying fuel. Now I use my money for other essential matters, such as my children’s education.”

WFP, recognizing the burden of firewood collection in some areas of Sri Lanka, and the adverse environmental impacts of cutting down trees to use for fuel in cooking, decided to distribute fuel-efficient stoves to 50,000 internally displaced (IDP) families. The locally produced stoves are known as Anagi, which means 'precious' or 'excellent' in Sinhala. A two pot single-stove, made from clay, the Anagi stove were purchased with support from the Government of Luxembourg. They are designed to suit the cooking habits in Sri Lanka and require less firewood than the traditional cooking stove. They are also portable, and have been easily brought by the IDPfamilies from temporary IDP camps to their resettlement areas. Moreover, the stoves produce intense amounts of heat, making cooking time quicker and faster.