National policies

Enhancing traditional means of livelihood through entry-point efficient energy models




The project aims to introduce sustainable initiatives such as energy-efficient stoves, biogas plants, and solar lanterns in villages constituting tribal and other forest-dependent communities living along forest fringes of Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Corbett Tiger Reserve in India to reduce the dependency upon fuelwood as the sole source of energy.

Project Description

The project aims to introduce sustainable initiatives such as energy-efficient stoves, biogas plants, and solar lanterns in villages constituting tribal and other forest-dependent communities along forest fringes of Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Corbett Tiger Reserve in India to reduce the dependency upon fuelwood as the sole source of energy. a. Communities living in the project site share the resources with wildlife, and rely upon forests for primary or additional livelihoods often in the areas demarcated as Protected Area under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and have seen least level of development in terms of infrastructure, health-care and education. This further adds to the problem of reliance upon forests as a resource to meet the basic requirements for energy. b. Objectives: i. Introduce energy-efficient stoves and biogas plants as a means to effectively reduce dependency upon fuelwood. ii. Tackle health problems related to prolonged smoke inhalation due to cooking in poorly ventilated environment. iii. Address issues related to livestock grazing in forests by encouraging fodder crop production in households with biogas plants. iv. Develop a sustainable solar lighting model by training women Self-help Groups. c. Main activities: i. Custom-designed energy-efficient stoves (632), and modified traditional stoves (94) were distributed to the households along with chimney extensions. ii. TCF is installing 21 biogas plants, of which 6 are currently functional. Stall-feeding is being promoted for the livestock by providing seeds of fodder crop Barseem (Trifolium alexandrinum) to reduce the dependency upon forests for grazing and at the same time enable collection of dung for the biogas plant. iii. So far, 477 solar lanterns have been distributed. Distribution of 2500 lanterns will begin in February 2015.


i. Energy-efficient stove: 726 households in 17 villages. i. Biogas plant: 21 households in 10 villages. ii. Solar lighting: 477 solar lanterns provided in 12 villages. 2500 more households in 62 villages to be covered.


a. 144 households were randomly surveyed for their usage of energy-efficient stoves. These stoves required as much as 12.5% to 55.6% less fuelwood in comparison to traditional stoves. On an average, families require 35% less wood than traditional stoves. The largest family of 12 members required 46.4% and a family of two required on an average 25% less wood. The comparison was made by interviewing household members who cook, and by weighing of the wood before its use. b. Since biogas plant installation is currently ongoing, the direct benefit of the plant will be in significant reduction of fuelwood use in comparison to energy-efficient stoves, and in encouraging lesser reliance upon forests for grazing. c. Past experience of distributing 477 solar lanterns has shown that lanterns play a significant role in studies due to the availability of a reliable source of light during evening hours, and an increase in livelihood-related activities which are otherwise not possible after sunset.

Business Model

a. Beneficiaries bore 25% of the total cost of stoves to ensure responsible use of the product. b. Biogas plants were built with the cost of labour borne by the beneficiary. The beneficiaries are provided with seeds of fodder crop to encourage stall feeding. c. Solar lanterns were provided on basis of INR 1.00 for usage per day for rentals and upkeep of the lanterns. Five training programmes for women on the repair and maintenance will be conducted during the distribution of the 2500 lanterns.

Lessons Learnt

The local communities consider fuelwood utilization as an efficient way of cooking, although it requires substantial amount of energy, time, and risk. This is partly because it is considered to be a free and readily available resource. Collection of dry wood is a right of villagers within or outside the village boundary (WWF, 2014) which may result in over extraction. These issues impede the acceptance of alternative sources of energy. Custom-designed stoves are small in size; hence beneficiaries rely upon traditional stoves for large families. Although both introduced stoves are equally efficient, modification of traditional stoves has seen better acceptance than custom-designed stoves.

Key Feature

a. Energy-efficient stoves are scalable and replicable, and serve as a sustainable step towards reducing dependency on fuelwood. The project required complete acceptance of a kitchen appliance which people often hesitate to change. Random assessment is undertaken to ensure that energy-efficient stoves are preferred over traditional stoves, and occasional weighing of wood required is undertaken to assess the quantity of wood reduced. b. Biogas plants are replicable and prove to be a safe source of energy which reduce dependency upon fuelwood. The only condition is the requirement of a substantial number of livestock to feed the plant with dung, which is ensured by encouraging stall feeding over forest grazing. c. Solar lanterns are the first step towards sustainable development in a village. The outcomes of this project lies in increased amount of time dedicated to livelihood activities and studies which were earlier impeded by darkness and reliance upon wood and kerosene for lamps.

Other significant information

The activities implemented serve as stepping stones for future sustainable interventions. The project focuses on reducing the basic requirements for running a house – fuelwood, without hampering the domestic chores. Such entry-point activities increase the exposure and acceptance of sustainable activities, as well as bring a change in the attitude from the conventional developmental models revolving around electricity supply which is highly unreliable, and its thermal-based source which adds to human-induced climate change. Communities have shown their interest in the project activities with a promise of extracting less wood and keeping cattle from venturing into forests. Solar lanterns are still kept in houses as a backup source of light because of the poor supply of electricity in villages. This project brought to light the local people's general acceptance of the activities, which implies that sustainable development is indeed a welcome approach to conventional development models.

Main Donor

Axis Bank Foundation
(Private sector)

Implementing Actor

The Corbett Foundation (NGOs)